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

55 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 Jul 2010

See all articles by Noel Maurer

Noel Maurer

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Lakshmi Iyer

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2008

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 progress of implementing 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: first, the high cost of implementing these programs was a major factor in reducing take-up. On the other hand, the government was reluctant to evict delinquent or informal cultivators, especially on public lands. This reduced the costs of tenure insecurity. Political constraints prevented the government from subsidizing land reforms to a greater degree.

Suggested Citation

Maurer, Noel and Iyer, Lakshmi, The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier Under American Rule, 1898-1918 (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14298, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1264561

Noel Maurer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

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

Lakshmi Iyer

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

Cambridge, MA
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
22
Abstract Views
608
PlumX Metrics