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Abstract: We exploit substantial variation in land-market institutions across Indian states and detailed micro household-level panel data to assess the effect of distortions in land rental markets on agricultural productivity. We provide empirical evidence that states with more rental-market activity feature less misallocation and reallocate land more efficiently over time. We develop a model of heterogeneous farms and land rentals to estimate land-market distortions in each state. Land rentals have substantial positive effects on agricultural productivity: an efficient reallocation of land increases agricultural productivity by 38 percent on average and by more than 50 percent in states with highly distorted rental markets. Both farm and state-level land market distortions are quantitatively important, with state-level wedges accounting for a significant fraction of rental market participation differences across states. Land market distortions contribute about one-third to the large differences in agricultural total factor productivity across Indian states.
Keywords: Productivity, agriculture, distortions, land rentals, states, India.
JEL Classification: O4, O5, O11, O14, E01, E13.