A model of rural conflict: violence and land reform policy in Brazil

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In the past ten years the struggle for land in Brazil has taken the shape of invasions of private land by welI organized groups of land less squatters. It is argued in this paper that these invasions and the resulting contlicts are a direct response to the land reform program which has been adopted by the govemment since 1985. which is based on the expropriation of farms and the creation of settlement projects. The set of formal and informal institutions which compromise the land reform program are used as the background for a game-theory model of rural contlicts. T estable implications are derived trom this model with particular emphasis on the etfect of policy variables on violence. These are then tested with panel data at state levei from 1988 to 1995. - It is shown that govemment policy which has the intent of reducing the amount of violence has the opposite etfect of leading to more incentives for contlicts.

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