The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Land Reform

  • E. V. K. FitzGerald
Reference work entry


The redistribution of land property titles by the state is a key issue in poor agrarian countries where land is both the main productive asset and the basis of survival and accumulation for the majority of the population, and thus land tenure is the foundation of the social structure and political power. ‘Agrarian reform’, which encompasses the transformation of rural administrative institutions, labour use and markets as well, is the modern form of this concept. Urban land reform is not dealt with here, as it is usually subsumed under housing policy. Historically, while widespread changes of land tenure have been characteristic of social revolutions since ancient times (Tuma 1965), and classical economic doctrine supported the sweeping away of the feudal land tenure system to permit commercial modernization and stabilize the independent peasantry; the ‘agrarian question’ only becomes a central issue of political economy in the 19th century (Hussain and Tribe 1981).

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. V. K. FitzGerald
    • 1
  1. 1.