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The Peasant Betrayed: Agricultural and Land Reform in the Third World

By John P. Powelson and Richard Stock
About the Book

After studying land reform in 16 countries and offering illustrative examples from 11 more, Powelson and Stock conclude that government land reforms generally harm the rural poor more than help them. Detailing case after case in which government intervention has impoverished the peasant, the authors find only a few cases in which the government has made the peasant better off. In contrast, they show that in Third World countries where the state has left farming to the farmer, agricultural output has soared, famine has been overcome, and the welfare of the peasant has vastly improved.

About the Authors

John P. Powelson is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Colorado, specializing in economic development and economic history. Richard Stock is a senior research associate, at the Center for Business and Economic Research of the University of Dayton.

What Others Have Said

The Peasant Betrayed is a skeptical but not cynical view of government intervention in agrarian reform, firmly rooted in economic principles and on‐​the‐​spot observations. It spares neither capitalist nor socialist reforms, and thus avoids conventional dogmatism. The book achieves a clarity of exposition uncommon among social scientists, and thus will be attractive reading for policymakers and students alike. It is economically astute and culturally sensitive to Third World peoples.”
—Bruce Herrick, Washington and Lee University

“Professor Powelson has long been an independent‐​minded, close student of development countries who tends to come up with documented analyses different from those of other people. This time he and Professor Stock argue that land reform, often undertaken with the best intentions, has mostly been used to exploit peasants.”
Foreign Affairs