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Three Essays on Women's Land Rights in Rural Peru

This dissertation investigates the relationship between female land rights and cultural, policy, and regional variables, and asks to what degree, and in what ways, the highly contextual nature of the relationships between these variables have determined local-specific causes and effects of female land rights in Peru. This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essay provides the socioeconomic and institutional context for the entire dissertation, introducing a brief historical account of the evolution of female land rights in Peru. This essay pays particular attention to the relationship between property rights and geographical context in the Peruvian countryside, examining the region-specific institutional, social, cultural and economic obstacles that prevent women, particularly in rural areas, from having adequate access to and secure tenure of land. The second essay models the varying patterns of female land ownership in Peru, identifying the main factors that have bearing on women’s acquisition of land, relevant to explain the magnitude and characteristics of the gender-asset gap in Peru. This essay empirically estimates the determinants of female land ownership, and in particular the effect of household wealth and geographic location on women’s likelihoods to acquire formal land rights. Lastly, the third essay tests the hypothesis that land ownership gives women more bargaining power in the household. This essay conducts an empirical evaluation of the effects of female land rights on labor supply decisions of couples in the Peruvian rural household setting. This essay brings to light the complex effects of partnered women’s bargaining power on time use including labor supply in paid employment, which varies in connection with the specific characteristics of female land rights and the size of the farm. By comparing the main features of farm organization in minifundios (farms between ¼ and 3½ hectares) versus small farms (between 3½ and 10 hectares), this essay shows that the differences in the time allocation patterns of couples in these two farm size categories largely emanate from differences (in determinants and characteristics) in women’s land rights.