Land Inequality and Rural Unrest: Theory and Evidence from Brazil

Forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution

67 Pages Posted: 30 May 2014 Last revised: 18 May 2016

See all articles by Michael Albertus

Michael Albertus

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science

Thomas Brambor

Stanford University - Department of Political Science; Alexander Hamilton Center at NYU

Ricardo Ceneviva

Rio de Janeiro State University - Institute for Social and Political Studies

Date Written: May 8, 2015

Abstract

What is the relationship between landholding inequality and rural unrest? And why does land reform that ostensibly addresses rural grievances sometimes exacerbate unrest? We advance the understanding of these longstanding questions by shifting the emphasis from how landholding inequality fuels rural grievances to how it captures the collective action capacity of landowners. Using municipal-level data from Brazil’s massive land reform program from 1988-2008, we demonstrate that the relationship between landholding inequality and unrest is conditional. Isolated threats to landed elites in the form of land invasions are difficult to repel, generating a positive relationship between landholding inequality and one-off land invasions. By contrast, sustained, broader local threats triggered by nearby land reforms catalyze landowners’ organization in repelling land invasions, leading to the reverse relationship. The findings provide a novel answer for why a straightforward link between land inequality and rural unrest is elusive, and may generalize to a broad range of similar cases.

Suggested Citation

Albertus, Michael and Brambor, Thomas and Ceneviva, Ricardo, Land Inequality and Rural Unrest: Theory and Evidence from Brazil (May 8, 2015). Forthcoming, Journal of Conflict Resolution. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2442943 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2442943

Michael Albertus (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Political Science ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Thomas Brambor

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://thomas.brambor.com

Alexander Hamilton Center at NYU ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

Ricardo Ceneviva

Rio de Janeiro State University - Institute for Social and Political Studies ( email )

Rua da Matriz, 82
Botafogo
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 22260-100
Brazil
+55 21 2266 8300 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ricardoceneviva.com

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
346
rank
80,841
Abstract Views
1,331
PlumX Metrics