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UNU-WIDER Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004

Support functions

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WP/31 Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004

This paper uses data from a household survey to estimate changes in land distribution in rural West Bengal between 1967-2004 and decompose these into contributions of different factors. There was a substantial drop in land per household and land per capita, while within-village inequality rose. The latter was associated mainly with rising landlessness induced by high rates of household division for marginal and small landowning households. Conversely, division of large landowning households reduced inequality. We find a significant indirect effect of the tenancy reform (Operation Barga) on inequality, as it reduced division rates of small landowning households while raising those of large landowning households. The land titling (patta) program also reduced inequality by reducing landlessness. Land markets were highly active, and were mildly equalizing. The inequality reducing effects of land reforms and land markets were dwarfed by the rising inequality and landlessness induced by division of small landowning households and immigration.
WIDER Working Paper
WP/31 Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004
Pranab Bardhana, Michael Lucab, Dilip Mookherjeeb, and Francisco Pino
Publication date:
June 2011
ISBN 13 Web:
Copyright holder:
Copyright year:
household division, land inequality, land markets, land reform
O13, O29, Q15
Land Inequality and Decentralized Governance in LDCs
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions to the research programme by the governments of Denmark (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency—Sida) and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development—DFID).

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