Land reform, regional planning and socioeconomic development in Brazil

Change log
Souza, Saulo 

In this dissertation, we examine the socioeconomic impact of land reform schemes and discuss the policy implications of combining aspects of both state-led and market-based approaches to land reallocation through regional planning. We focus on land reform settlements in Northeast Brazil, where both approaches operated over the same time frame (1997-2002). Empirically, we identify the effects of various indicators on the socioeconomic growth of a sample of rural territories and localities, giving emphasis to the influence of the market-based Land Bill Programme (PCT) and the traditional state-led scheme (INCRA) on that growth through panel data analysis, cross-section regressions and field-based analysis. It has been concluded that: i) The scope for plan-led strategies towards sustainable development in the countryside has been given less than sufficient emphasis in the land reform literature; ii) There is not clear evidence that the market-based approach leads to higher socioeconomic growth regionally than does the state-led approach, or vice versa; iii) Although the market-based scheme contributed to improved access to title, the PCT settlements failed to impact positively settlers’ welfare in the majority of sites; iv) Securing both higher access to land rights and better living conditions through land reform requires an approach that combines both state-led and market-based elements; v) Securing measurable positive impacts on the regional economy requires a land reform strategy that has a regional scope. As a policy implication, the work suggests the adoption of a plan-led land reform strategy that is coordinated at all government levels and between the public and private sectors, and one that involves establishing strategic portfolios of potentially sustainable areas, defining spending priorities for those areas along with funding possibilities through regional planning. Differently from the commonsense literature on land reform in developing countries, this work demonstrates that regional planning has an essential part to play in land reform through proposing a plan-led strategy that combines elements of both market-based and state-led approaches to the benefit of the regional economy.

Land reform, Regional planning, Socioeconomic development, Developing countries
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
Supported by the Programme AlBan, the European Union Programme of High Level Scholarships for Latin America, scholarship no. E07D402641BR.