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Property Rights, Institutional Change, and Economic Development: Essays on the Causes and Consequences of the First Nations Land Management Act

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Title: Property Rights, Institutional Change, and Economic Development: Essays on the Causes and Consequences of the First Nations Land Management Act
Author: Kelly, Liam Daniel
Department: Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics
Program: Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics
Advisor: Deaton Jr, Brady
Abstract: This dissertation consists of three essays that focus on the nature of institutions on First Nations reserves in Canada and the implications for economic development. This research contributes to an important and growing literature that seeks to better understand the persistence of poverty in Indigenous communities. My discussion and analysis focus on the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA). In addition, I examine the use and benefits of individualized property rights on First Nations reserves. This research is of economic significance due to the complex institutional arrangements that exist on reserves, the persistence and prevalence of poverty, and the growing trend towards reform. The first essay provides a review of the recent economics literature on Indigenous economic development in Canada and the United States. Due to the lack of empirical research on First Nations reserves in Canada, I carefully review the literature relating to Native American reservations and highlight key themes and similarities that are relevant for First Nations. This review identifies three common themes related to institutions and economic development on reserves and reservations: restrictive property arrangements, credit availability, and issues of sovereignty. The second essay investigates the factors influencing adoption and implementation of the FNLMA. I focus my analysis on two key factors: individualized property rights and previous participation in government-led reforms. I find that individualized property rights are an important factor influencing FNLMA implementation and I find some evidence that past reform experience influences adoption. This research builds on previous work by Doidge, Deaton, and Woods (2013) and Chen (2015), which provide evidence that urban distance and average education levels influence FNLMA adoption. The third essay assesses the benefits of the FNLMA for housing quality on First Nations reserves. Poor quality and overcrowded housing are persistent and prevalent problems across most First Nations reserves in Canada. In general, I find mixed evidence that implementation improves housing quality, although I do find that individualized property rights do improve housing quality. Nevertheless, my results suggest that the impacts of these reforms are relatively small and therefore unlikely to significantly improve poverty on First Nations reserves.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/23712
Date: 2021-01-07
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