Property without Rights: Origins and Consequences of the Property Rights Gap
(Cambridge University Press, 2021)
This book, published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series, is motivated by a puzzling and consequential fact: major land reform programs have reallocated property in more than one-third of the world's countries in the last century and impacted over one billion people, but only rarely granted beneficiaries complete property rights. Why is this the case and what are the consequences? This book draws on wide-ranging original data and charts new conceptual terrain to reveal the political origins of the property rights gap. It shows that land reform programs are most often implemented by authoritarian governments that deliberately withhold property rights from beneficiaries. In so doing, governments generate coercive leverage over rural populations and exert social control. This is politically advantageous to ruling governments but it has negative development consequences: it slows economic growth, productivity, and urbanization and it exacerbates inequality. The book also examines the conditions under which subsequent governments close property rights gaps, usually as a result of democratization or foreign pressure.
Authoritarianism and the Elite Origins of Democracy
(Cambridge University Press, 2018; co-authored with Victor Menaldo)
This book explores the origins of democracy and the impact that autocratic legacies have after democratization. We argue that, in terms of institutional design, the allocation of power and privilege, and the lived experiences of citizens, democracy often does not reset the political game after displacing authoritarianism. Democratic institutions are frequently designed by the outgoing authoritarian regime to shield incumbent elites from the rule of law and give them an unfair advantage over politics and the economy after democratization. We systematically document and analyze the constitutional tools that outgoing authoritarian elites use to accomplish these ends, such as electoral system design, legislative appointments, federalism, legal immunities, constitutional tribunal design, and supermajority thresholds for change. Our book provides wide-ranging evidence for these claims using data that spans the globe and dates from 1800 to the present. We also conduct detailed case studies of Chile and Sweden. In doing so, we also explain why some democracies successfully overhaul their elite-biased constitutions to found more egalitarian social contracts.
Autocracy and Redistribution: The Politics of Land Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
This book, published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series, explores the political conditions under which land reform occurs, motivated by an interest in why governments implement egalitarian reforms. Based on fieldwork in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, as well as archival work, I collected and coded country-year data on land expropriation and redistribution, negotiated transfers, and colonization from 1930-2008 for all of Latin America as well as subnational data for many cases. I have also coded country-year data on major and minor episodes of land redistribution for the whole world since 1900 to demonstrate the broad scope of my findings. The project sheds light on when and why land reform programs are implemented, and why they are structured in different ways.
Mid-Length Peer-Reviewed Publications
- Albertus, Michael, Sofia Fenner, and Dan Slater. 2018. Coercive Distribution. Cambridge University Press, Elements Series.
- Albertus, Michael, and Guy Grossman. 2021. "The Americas: When Do Voters Support Power Grabs." Journal of Democracy 32(2). Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Mark Deming. "Branching Out: Consequences of the Dispersion of Authoritarian Elites Across State and Government." Democratization 28(3): 539-561.
- Albertus, Michael, Mauricio Espinoza, and Ricardo Fort. 2020. "Land Reform and Human Capital Development: Evidence from Peru." Journal of Development Economics 147. See coverage of the findings in El Comercio.
- Albertus, Michael. 2020. "Land Reform and Civil Conflict: Theory and Evidence from Peru." American Journal of Political Science 46(2): 256-274.
- Albertus, Michael, and Bogdan Popescu. 2020. "Does Equalizing Assets Spur Development? Evidence from Large-Scale Land Reform in Peru." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 15(2): 255-295.
- Albertus, Michael. 2019. "Theory and Methods in the Study of Distributive Politics." Political Science Research and Methods 7(3): 629-639.
- Albertus, Michael. 2019. "The Fate of Authoritarian Elites Under Democracy." Journal of Conflict Resolution 63(3): 727-759.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Gay. 2019. "No Better Time Than Now: Future Uncertainty and Private Investment Under Dictatorship." Economics & Politics 31(1): 71-96.
- Albertus, Michael. 2019. "The Effect of Coffee Price Shocks on Public Lands Distribution: Evidence from Colombia." World Development 113: 294-308.
- Albertus, Michael, Thomas Brambor, and Ricardo Ceneviva. 2018. “Land Inequality and Rural Unrest: Theory and Evidence from Brazil.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 62(3): 557-96. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael. 2017. "Landowners and Democracy: The Social Origins of Democracy Reconsidered." World Politics 69(2): 233-76. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Gay. 2017. "Unlikely Democrats: Elite Uncertainty Under Autocracy and Democratization." American Journal of Political Science 61(3): 624-41. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Beatriz Magaloni, and Barry Weingast. 2016. “Authoritarian Survival and Poverty Traps: Land Reform in Mexico.” World Development 77: 154-170. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2016. "Capital in the Twenty-First Century – In the Rest of the World." Annual Review of Political Science 19: 49-66.
- Albertus, Michael. 2015. “The Role of Subnational Politicians In Distributive Politics: Political Bias in Venezuela's Land Reform under Chávez.” Comparative Political Studies 48(13): 1667-1710. See an op-ed I published in Foreign Policy that links this project to Venezuela's 2015 elections and an op-ed I published in Foreign Policy that links this project to Hugo Chávez's 2012 re-election. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael. 2015. “Explaining Patterns of Redistribution Under Autocracy: The Case of Peru's Revolution from Above.” Latin American Research Review 50(2): 107-134. Cited in USAID’s Land Tenure and Property Rights Peru Country Profile.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2014. “Gaming Democracy: Elite Dominance During Transition and Prospects for Redistribution.” British Journal of Political Science 44(3): 575-603. See an op-ed we published in the New York Times and op-ed we published in the USA Today using data from this project and relating it to the Arab Spring revolutions. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2014. "Dealing with Dictators: Negotiated Democratization and the Fate of Outgoing Autocrats." International Studies Quarterly 58(3): 550-65. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael. 2013. “Vote Buying with Multiple Distributive Goods.” Comparative Political Studies 46(9): 1082-1111. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Oliver Kaplan. 2013. “Land Reform as a Counterinsurgency Policy: The Case of Colombia.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 57(2): 198-231. See op-eds we published in Foreign Policy (here) and in the New York Times (here) that link this project to current political developments in Colombia. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2012. “If You’re Against Them You’re with Us: The Effect of Expropriation on Autocratic Survival.” Comparative Political Studies 45(8): 973-1003. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2012. “Dictators as Founding Fathers? The Role of Constitutions Under Autocracy.” Economics & Politics 24(3): 279-306. Supplementary Appendix.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2012. “Coercive Capacity and the Prospects for Democratization.” Comparative Politics 44(2): 151-69.
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Menaldo. 2014. “The Political Economy of Autocratic Constitutions.” In Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes (Cambridge University Press), edited by Tom Ginsburg and Alberto Simpser.
- Albertus, Michael, and Noah Schouela. 2021. "How Authoritarian Legacies of Social Order and Extraction Impact Democracy: Evidence from Portugal."
- Albertus, Michael. 2021. "The Political Price of Authoritarian Control: Evidence from Francoist Land Settlements in Spain."
- Albertus, Michael, Mauricio Espinoza, and Ricardo Fort. 2021. "Pathways of Development: The Long Shadow of Peru's Inca Road."
- Albertus, Michael, and Victor Gay. 2021. "The Road to Rebellion: State-Building and Rural Uprisings in the Run-up to the French Revolution."
- Albertus, Michael. 2021. "The Persistence of Rural Underdevelopment: Land Reform in Italy."
- Albertus, Michael, and Mark Deming. 2021. "Trajectories and Consequences of Authoritarian Elite Persistence Under Democracy."