Land Reform and Civil Conflict: Theory and Evidence from Peru

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How does land reform impact civil conflict? This article examines this question in the prominent case of Peru by leveraging original data on all land expropriations under military rule from 1969 to 1980 and event-level data from the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission on rural killings during Peru's internal conflict from 1980 to 2000. Using a geographic regression discontinuity design that takes advantage of Peru's regional approach to land reform through zones that did not entirely map onto major preexisting administrative boundaries, I find that greater land reform dampened subsequent conflict. Districts in core areas of land reform zones that received intense land reform witnessed less conflict relative to comparable districts in adjacent peripheral areas where less land reform occurred. Further tests suggest that land reform mitigated conflict by facilitating counterinsurgency and intelligence gathering, building local organizational capacity later used to deter violence, undercutting the Marxist left, and increasing opportunity costs to supporting armed groups.




Albertus, M. (2020). Land Reform and Civil Conflict: Theory and Evidence from Peru. American Journal of Political Science, 64(2), 256–274.

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