Essays on the Political Economy of Latin American Development
Galan, Juan Sebastian
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CitationGalan, Juan Sebastian. 2019. Essays on the Political Economy of Latin American Development. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation consists of three independent chapters about the political economy of development in Latin America. The first chapter, entitled "Tied to the Land? Intergenerational Mobility and Agrarian Reform in Colombia", examines the intergenerational impacts of providing land to the rural poor. I use ID numbers to track applicants to the 1968 Colombian agrarian reform and their children in various administrative data. Exploiting discontinuities in the allocation of parcels, I find that the children of recipients exhibit higher intergenerational mobility. In contrast to the view that land would tie them to the countryside, today these children participate more in the modern economy. They have better living standards and are more likely to work in formal and high-skilled sectors. These findings appear driven by a relief of credit constraints that allowed recipients to migrate to urban centers and invest in the education of their children.
The second chapter, entitled "The Colonial State and Long-Run Development in Mexico", investigates the persistent effects of the colonial state (or Real Audiencia) in Mexico. In regions further away from its control, Spanish settlers faced weaker accountability to coerce native populations and extract natural resources. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design, I document that regions with weaker colonial state presence exhibit lower historical and contemporary economic prosperity. After Independence, suggestive evidence indicates conflicts were more prevalent in these regions as the state struggled to monopolize violence. Meanwhile, communities (or pueblos) developed norms of parochial cooperation - higher in-group cooperation but lower trust towards the state. I argue this environment weakened property rights in the long-run.
The third chapter, entitled "Acting Like a State: Evidence from Colombian Paramilitarism" with Maria A. Bautista and James A. Robinson, studies early state formation in light of the experience of the Frente Jose Luis Zuluaga (FJLZ), a paramilitary group in the eastern part of the department of Antioquia, Colombia led by Luis Eduardo Zuluaga alias “McGuiver”. Drawing from several data sources, including extensive fieldwork, we document how the empirical evidence about this group contradicts the most prominent theories on the origins and nature of the state. Amid the absense of the central state and their fight against guerrillas, the FJLZ tried to establish a monopoly of violence, enforced their own written legal system, raised taxes, and provided other public goods, including roads, electricity, schools and houses for the poor. They also had a bureaucratized non-clientelistic organization with functional specialization.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029625
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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