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The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier under American Rule, 1898-1918

50 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2008 Last revised: 28 Jun 2009

Lakshmi Iyer

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit

Noel Maurer

Harvard Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2, 2009

Abstract

We examine three reforms to property rights introduced by the United States in the Philippines in the early 20th century: the redistribution of large estates to their tenants, the creation of a system of secure land titles, and a homestead program to encourage cultivation of public lands. During the first phase of American occupation (1898-1918), we find that the implementation of these reforms was very slow. As a consequence, tenure insecurity increased over this period, and the distribution of farm sizes remained extremely unequal. We identify two primary causes for the slow progress of reform. The first was the high cost of implementing these programs, together with political constraints which prevented the government from subsidizing land reforms to a greater degree. The second was the reluctance of the government to evict delinquent or informal cultivators, especially on public lands, which reduced the costs of tenure insecurity.

Suggested Citation

Iyer, Lakshmi and Maurer, Noel, The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier under American Rule, 1898-1918 (April 2, 2009). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 09-023. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1255582 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1255582

Lakshmi Iyer (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Noel Maurer

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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