Best IOEA Paper
The title of the paper is : Technological Change, Organizational Capacity and Rural Conflict: Land Occupations in Brazil
Abstract : When do the rural poor become politically active? In this paper we estimate the effect of technological innovation on redistributive conflict. We study conflicts between landless peasants and landed élites in the form of land occupations in Brazil. Our results show that labor-saving technological innovation led to a decline in agricultural labor demand and increased the incidence of land occupations by the rural poor. We identify this effect exploiting exogenous differences in the local potential gains associated to the adoption of the new technology. We then show that these effects strongly depend on the organizational capacity of the local population. We find that the labor-saving technological shock caused significantly more land occupations in municipalities with a higher share of Catholic priests per Catholic individual. We interpret these results as showing that the ability of rural poor to politically mobilize depends on the existence of networks of potential leaders able to gather information and coordinate action.