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On Tuesday, December 7, 2010 the Center for Global Development and The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies hosted a Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)* entitled Unintended Consequences of Laws to Protect the Poor: How Restrictions on the Sale, Rental, and Use of Land Affect Workers’ Wages in Sri Lanka. This seminar featured Shahe Emran, George Washington University. Leo Feler, of Johns Hopkins University SAIS served as the discussant.
Paper Abstract: Taking advantage of a historical quasi-experiment in Sri Lanka, this paper provides evidence on the effects of land market restrictions on wages and its spatial pattern. To isolate the direction of causation, we exploit the effects of historical malaria prevalence on the incidence of land restrictions through its effects on the availability of ‘crown land’. The results show that land restrictions can reduce wages substantially, and this effect is smaller in remote locations. We also look closely at the effect of land market restrictions (especially sales restrictions) on women's labor force participation and gender wage gap in rural areas. Theory predicts multiple reasons why the effects on women’s labor force participation and earnings would be different from those for men. We find that land sale restrictions cause more women to enter the labor force but widen the gender wage gap. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other analysis of the effects of land market restrictions on women's labor force participation and gender wage gap in the current economics literature.
*The Massachusetts Ave. Development Seminar (MADS) is a ten year-old research seminar series that brings some of the world’s leading development scholars to discuss their new research and ideas. The presentations meet an academic standard of quality and are at times technical, but retain a focus on a mixed audience of researchers and policymakers. Because we know of your interest in development research, we’ve taken the liberty of including you in this and future MADS invitations but as always feel free to unsubscribe [link] if this is not of interest to you.