The effects of agricultural cooperatives on land conflicts, violence, and community trust: Household-level evidence from rural Burundi

Topher L. McDougal, Lars Almquist


Facing a population growth rate of 3.2 percent and dwindling per capita land access, many rural communities in Burundi are experimenting with land cooperatives to collectivize risk, share information, reap economies of scale (if any), and build trust between association members. We use unique field data gathered by one author (Almquist) during a one-shot evaluation of a cooperative association operating in three villages in southeastern Burundi. We employ pseudo difference-in-differences logistic regression models to assess the effects of the cooperative on the (1) incidence of reported land conflicts within the last three years, (2) perceived community land inequality, (3) reported acceptability of land inequality, (4) violence toward acquaintances, (5) trust of colleagues, and (6) trust of neighbors. We find no evidence that cooperatives affect the incidence of land conflicts, but do find that residents of cooperative villages exhibit heightened perceptions of, and lower tolerance for, land inequalities; they are less likely to report violence toward acquaintances, but cooperative members are more likely to do so than nonmembers; and nonmember residents of active cooperative towns report less trust toward neighbors. We speculate that one weakness of cooperatives is that they may heighten the risk of violence between members and nonmembers. [JEL codes: D74, H56, O1]


Agricultural cooperatives; land conflict

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