NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Noel Maurer

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Working Papers

September 2008The Cost of Property Rights: Establishing Institutions on the Philippine Frontier Under American Rule, 1898-1918
with Lakshmi Iyer: w14298
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, espe...

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