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Evaluating efficiency gains from tenancy reform targeting a heterogeneous group of sharecroppers: Evidence from India (with Takashi Kurosaki and Saumik Paul), Center for Economic Institutions Working Paper Series No. 2016-10, 2016. Download
This paper reevaluates the effect of a tenancy reform, popularly known as Operation Barga, on agricultural productivity in West Bengal, India. We employ a transparent empirical strategy based on synthetic control. We focus on the varying intensity of Operation Barga across West Bengal districts by comparing the districts’ agricultural productivity with that of counterfactual districts using the synthetic control approach. Concerns over agro-climatic diversity and the recorded history of land reforms were also addressed while creating counterfactual districts. We find robust empirical evidence of a negligible effect on agricultural productivity growth. Next, we consider a theoretical framework to estimate the potential gains from Operation Barga in light of several types of sharecroppers. Consistent with the empirical findings, we conclude that the capacity of Operation Barga to enhance agricultural productivity is heavily constrained by the heterogeneity of sharecroppers in terms of wealth and livelihood structure.