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I4R Discussion Paper Series #20


Anders Kjelsrud (Oslo Business School), Andreas Kotsadam (The Frisch Centre), Ole Rogeberg (The Frisch Centre)

Cooperative Property Rights and Development: Evidence from Land Reform in El Salvador: A Comment

Updated Version March 10

Montero (2022) explores a discontinuity in a land reform in El Salvador and reports two main findings. First, relative to outside-owned haciendas operated by contract workers, the productivity of worker-owned cooperatives is higher for staple crops and lower for cash-crop. Second, cooperative property rights increase workers’ incomes and compress wage distributions. In this comment, we show that the latter result rests on two mistakes: three-quarters of the observations are duplicates and income inequality is calculated over too few workers to be meaningful. When corrected, the data sources and research design provide no credible evidence regarding the causal effects of ownership structure on income levels and inequality.