Land Deals and Social Fabrics: The Impact of Large-Scale Land Acquisitions on Social Capital in Africa and Latin America
with Alexander Leibik
The livelihoods of rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are closely tied to small-scale farming and other types of land use. In recent years, private investors as well as governments have shown a growing interest in large-scale acquisition of arable land across both continents. While authors have started to analyze the local economic impacts of such investments, their socio-political as well as psychological consequences remain poorly-understood. This paper investigates how changes in land ownership patterns caused by large-scale land acquisitions affect the level of interpersonal and institutional trust, social cohesion and perceived state legitimacy among rural communities. We maintain that the transition from community and individual-smallholder land ownership into large-scale investor property negatively affects these social capital dimensions. To test our hypotheses, we rely on georeferenced information on land deals, tenure systems as well as survey data from Afrobarometer and the Latin American Public Opinion Project at the individual level of analysis. Employing a quasi-experimental design based on difference-in-means estimations, our preliminary models show that the global land rush indeed disrupts local social fabrics by reducing trust, social cohesion and perceived state legitimacy. This effect seems particularly strong when common land is targeted by investors.
with Jule Beck
The potential impacts of extractive industries on local food security are difficult to predict. On the one hand, resource extraction may generate more employment opportunities, provide farmers with better market access and increase fiscal transfers to resource-producing regions. On the other hand, mineral production may contribute to the marginalization of poor smallholders by encouraging land grabs, environmental degradation and structural labor market shifts. Combining geocoded survey data from the Demographic Health Survey and Afrobarometer with novel information on the control rights of gold, diamond and copper mines in Sub-Saharan Africa, this paper is the first attempt to systematically test the effect of mining activities on local populations’ access to food. Results from logistic models using individual mines as level of analysis suggest that the impact of mineral extraction on food security is gender- and ownership-specific. Mining operations decrease food availability among women in a substantial way, while – at the same time – showing no significant or even a positive effect on men’s access to food. Our instrumental variable models further reveal that particularly multinational mining companies are linked to increased food insecurity, while domestic firms are not. Finally, our fixed effects estimates demonstrate that mining is also related to poorer nutritional diversity. Relying on detailed information on children’s food consumption patterns from the Demographic Health Survey, we find that children living in districts hosting multinational mining firms eat a less diverse diet compared to other districts.
with Gerald Schneider and Arpita Khanna
The quantitative evidence on whether extractive industries generate economic wealth at the local level is far from conclusive. In line with recent studies highlighting the importance of considering institutional contexts and governance structures when assessing a possible resource curse, we argue that the effect of mining on local economic well-being is largely driven by different control right regimes. We claim that domestic mineral production stimulates local income more than internationally-controlled extraction, since national mining companies promote more backward economic linkages and have higher incentives to engage in local capacity building. To test our micro-level arguments, we combine information on districts’ economic well-being as well as individual’s assessments of their personal economic situation with our own data set on the control rights of copper, gold and diamond mines. Relying on this data, we perform district and individual-level analyses of sub-Saharan Africa covering the period from 1997 to 2015. Our instrumental variable estimations and fixed effects models show that the presence of domestic mining companies is associated with increased local wealth. Multinational firms, in contrast, seem to increase regional unemployment levels and fail to promote subnational economic well-being.