|London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom)
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This thesis examines the importance of property rights in the process of economic development of poor countries. The first chapter examines the impact of female property inheritance rights on human capital investment of women. Using plausibly exogenous variation created by amendments to the female inheritance law in India, I find that exposure to improved female inheritance rights increased the mean educational attainment of women. I also provide some suggestive evidence that the mechanism behind such an effect may be explained by the complementarity between female inheritance rights and education in the context of household property management rather than by a relaxation in the household budget constraint following reduction in dowry payments at the time of marriage. The second chapter looks at the intergenerational impact of improving mothers' property inheritance rights on their children's education. Using the same legal amendment to female inheritance laws as in chapter 1, I find that stronger inheritance rights of mothers had a positive impact on the mean education level of their daughters, but had little effect on that of sons. The chapter also provides suggestive evidence that the underlying mechanism of this effect appears to be an improvement in mothers' intra-household bargaining power rather than their increased access to credit as a result of improvement in inheritance rights following the reform. The third chapter (joint with Maitreesh Ghatak) examines the impact of land reform legislation, aimed at strengthening property rights, on agricultural productivity in India. We find heterogeneous treatment effects of land reform on productivity, both across types of land reform as well as across states of India. We argue that a plausible explanation for such observed inter-state heterogeneity in land reform experience may be found in the differential emphasis laid by states on different components of land reform, in particular ceiling versus tenancy laws.