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

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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.
Publisher:
UNU-WIDER
Series:
WIDER Working Paper
Volume:
2011/31
Title:
WP/31 Evolution of Land Distribution in West Bengal 1967-2004
Authors:
Pranab Bardhana, Michael Lucab, Dilip Mookherjeeb, and Francisco Pino
Publication date:
June 2011
ISBN 13 Web:
978-92-9230-396-9
Copyright holder:
© UNU-WIDER
Copyright year:
2011
Keywords:
household division, land inequality, land markets, land reform
JEL:
O13, O29, Q15
Project:
Land Inequality and Decentralized Governance in LDCs
Sponsor:
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).
Format:
online

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