The Consequences of the Post-Colonial Land Redistribution for the Democratic Transition in South Korea


work in progress


Land inequality tends to be viewed as inimical to democratic outcomes, either because it is usually associated with unequal distribution of social power, or because the immobility and specificity of landed assets imply landowners losing more from higher taxation under democracy than the owners of human and physical capital. The release from Japanese rule in 1945 triggered massive land redistribution in South Korea, which culminated in the legislation of the Land Reform Law three years later. This paper analyzes county-level outcome of the presidential elections to show that the post-colonial land redistribution promoted democratic transition by weakening social inequality, rather than by reducing the concentration of landownership.

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