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In this chaper, I examine the relationship between landholding inequality, interventions in agricultural markets, and the stability of authoritarian regimes. I construct measures of the size of rents that are generated by agricultural market distortions. I show that both forms of agricultural rents are much smaller than those originating from oil revenues. I then go on to estimate a series of models of authoritarian regime durability. I test whether landed elites are threatening to authoritarian regimes, and concentrations of landholdings are associated with a greater risk of regime collapse. I find a weak positive relationship between landholding inequality and the likelihood of collapse. I look at the relationship between agricultural rents and regime durability. I find that rents that accrue to the state have no effect on the probability of regime collapse. Rents accruing to agricultural producers, however, do have a significant interactive effect on regime stability. Where landholding inequality is high, regimes that distribute greater rents to the agricultural sector are significantly less likely to break down.
In this chapter, I model agricultural policy outcomes across countries. I do so using cross-national data on agricultural market distortions, regime typ,e and structures, which are indicators of the strength of rural and urban interests. I show that democracies support agriculture more than authoritarian regimes, on average. I look at the effects of urbanization, inequality, and unequal distributions of landholdings on agricultural support. I find that urbanization is associated with less support for agriculture under dictatorship, particularly in Asia. Inequality is associated with declining support for agriculture in democracies, particularly in Latin America and high-income countries, but not in Africa. Landholding inequality is correlated with greater support for agriculture under dictatorship, particularly in Latin America and Asia.
I use a case study of Imperial Germany to probe the causal mechanisms explored cross-nationally in previous chapters. I examine the political causes and consequences of a protectionist shift in agricultural policy that took place in the late 1870s in Imperial Germany and significantly increased domestic food and agricultural produce prices. I analyze an original dataset on the characteristics of German electoral districts, delegates to the Reichstag, and their voting patterns on the protectionist bill. High levels of landholding inequality in German electoral districts were correlated with disproportionate representation of aristocratic landowners and rural conservatives in the Reichstag, while urban interests had little influence. Subsequent gains from the protectionist trade policy fell disproportionately on areas dominated by the Prussian aristocracy and characterized by higher levels of landholding inequality. Agricultural policy thus played a key role in ensuring the aristocracy's political support for the authoritarian government.
In this chaper, I trace in detail the causal mechanisms linking landholding inequality, agricultural policy, and regime stability in Malaysia from 1969-1980. I analyze an original, constituency-level dataset on the correlates of support for the ruling Alliance at the 1969 parliamentary election. I show that landholding inequality was correlated with support for the Alliance. However, rice-growing areas abandoned the Alliance for the opposition in 1969. This important shift in mass politics led to contentious developments within the elite, which significantly strengthened rural, Malay interests in the ruling coalition. In the course of the next year, a major restructuring of the Malaysian economy was begun, an important component of which was a pro-rural agricultural policy reform, which increased the incomes of Malay rice farmers. This policy played an important role in placating rural interests and heading off their demands for a complete reorganization of the political system. Thus, the power shift within the ruling coalition led to a more rural-biased policy, which in turn ensured regime stability.
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