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Land markets, female land rights and agricultural productivity in Paraguayan agriculture

Thomas Masterson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation consists of three essays focusing on aspects of the economic development of the Paraguayan agricultural sector. The first essay assesses the relationship between farm size and productivity. Smaller farms are found to have higher net farm income per hectare than larger farms and to be more technically efficient than larger farms. The second essay attempts to explain the finding that rural Paraguayan households with female landowners have lower net farm income than those without female landowners, controlling for farm size. Households with female heads, female landowners and female farm managers are all found to have distinct agricultural production patterns compared to the corresponding group of males, planting subsistence rather than cash crops and engaging in livestock and dairy production rather than planting crops. Female-headed households have higher land productivity and rates of return on assets than dual-headed households, while those households with female landowners have lower productivity and rates of return. These results indicate that ownership of land is insufficient to ensure women's welfare: control over land is key. The third essay examines the claim that the land rental market can be an effective means of redistributing access to if not ownership of, land to the rural poor. The land sales market is also examined. The land rental market in Paraguay's rural areas is found to be very thin, due at least in part to a lack of available credit for inputs. Renting in substantial amounts of land is found to contribute significantly to household per capita income. From this collection of essays, three conclusions emerge: first, land redistribution is justified on efficiency as well as equity grounds; second, effective control over land is essential to improving the welfare of women; and third, without substantial state intervention to provide credit for inputs, the land rental market will continue to be ineffective at redistributing access to land or alleviating rural poverty.

Subject Area

Agricultural economics

Recommended Citation

Masterson, Thomas, "Land markets, female land rights and agricultural productivity in Paraguayan agriculture" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3163685.