UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Robert Heilmayr, University of California, Santa Barbara

Land Titling and the Long-Run Transformation of the Agrarian Economy

Date and Location

Thursday, February 13, 2020, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


Robert Heilmayr, Assitant Professor University of California, Santa Barbara
Felipe Jordan, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University

This paper provides novel causal evidence on the long-run effects of land titling programs on the sustainability of agricultural landscapes in the developing world. We leverage a natural experiment in Southern Chile where indigenous reservations under community-based tenure received access to a titling program through courts. Using a Geographic Regression Discontinuity Design at the courts' jurisdictional boundary, we show that greater access to private property through the titling program decreased the density of livestock, increased the area sown with oats and the area of native forests, and possibly accelerated the demographic transition. These results are consistent with the titling program ending a regime of open access to forests and grazing lands, leading indigenous farmers to grow their own fodder and restrict livestock production. This narrative seems plausible given the process of forced settlement faced by these indigenous people, which did not facilitate the emergence of the institutions required to successfully manage access to forest and grazing lands.

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