The time following W.W.II was a major period of land reforms.
In East Asia, strong pressure from occupying armies or severe
emergencies led to successful improvements in the economic,
social and political situation. This was due in part to the
inclusion of land management reforms and the organization
of services for the beneficiaries of these 'agrarian reforms',
as this new approach was called. These early reforms were
quite successful in providing incentives for increasing productivity,
promoting equality - even at a low level - and in reducing
dependency and power based on the control of land. On the
basis of a different ideology, similar effects arose from
the people's communes in China during the early stages.
Later attempts at land reforms were not able to bring about
the same results. Weak governments were not able to enforce
the laws against the resistance of powerful landlords, and
whatever results could be achieved were weakened by the too
limited inclusion or non-inclusion of services for the new
cultivators. This applies to Asia as well as Latin American
and North African cases.
In spite of the still existing negative effects of maladjusted
land tenure systems, the high political and financial costs
ensuing from attempts at reform led to discussions as to whether
it makes sense at all to increase the already very large number
of tiny holdings by giving small plots of land to landless
people. This discussion gained momentum from four developments:
the increasing shortages in food production, the impact of
the so-called 'green revolution', the increase in urbanization
and non-agricultural development and the continuing reduction
in farm sizes due to partitioning in the inheritance process.
Already during this period, governments preferred to give
land to smallholders and tenants with experience and equipment
instead of to the landless who had to be supplied with such
requirements. A more recent attempt has been the 'market-led
land reform'. It may reduce large property in land, but will
hardly result in much land for the poor.