Sharecropping And Uncertainty The Risk Sharing Rationale Economics Essay

In rural agribusiness we observe the being of assorted signifiers of contracts in the cultivation of land. More specifically, we distinguish between three signifiers of contractual understandings. In fixed-rent contracts the renter pays a fixed amount of money to the landlord, the rent, and obtains the right to cultivate land in return. In a fixed-wage contract the renter is paid a changeless pay by the landlord. Finally, with sharecropping the renter receives an agreed upon portion of the end product he has produced and passes the staying portion on to the landlord.[ 1 ]

Empirically, we widely observe the prevalence of sharecropping in peculiar in South Asia, where it is the dominant agricultural contract.[ 2 ]The wide-spread being of sharecropping has puzzled economic experts since Alfred Marshall demonstrated that portion contracts in footings of the efficiency of agricultural production are clearly inferior to fixed-rent occupancy.[ 3 ]In fact, Marshall showed that all contracts but a fixed-rent contract will take to an undersupply of labor by the renter and thereby do agricultural production diverge from its efficient degree.[ 4 ]

The fact that the being of sharecropping can non be explained in footings of efficiency considerations has led many bookmans to seek alternate accounts. The prevailing principle has been risk-sharing between the landlord and the renter. Nevertheless, with changeless returns to scale it can be shown that sharecropping has no extra-risk-sharing advantage over a suited mix of fixed-rent occupancy and wage-labour contracts.

In this essay, in a first measure I will sketch the relationship between sharecropping and risk-sharing. Furthermore, I will discourse the statement rebuting this principle and possible makings of its consequences. Last, I will show that sharecropping is underpinned by other principles, such as incentive proviso and showing, doing portion contracts non merely a response to uncertainness but besides to jobs originating from information dissymmetries, such as moral jeopardy and inauspicious choice.

Sharecropping and uncertainness: the risk-sharing principle

Risk-sharing as a principle for sharecropping

The being of sharecropping has normally been explained in footings of risk-sharing. Even though a renter could give a higher return by a fixed-rent contract and overall economic excess would be superior, because the end product of the renter does non to the full depend on his labor input ( but say on conditions conditions or other stochastic variables ) , the renter will non be willing to bear all the hazard originating from agricultural production. Uncertainty is a important factor in the finding of end product[ 5 ]and because of imperfectnesss in the insurance market the renter can non obtain insurance and normally has no other agencies of diversifying hazard.

On this background, in a portion contract hazard associated with agricultural production accrues in portion both to the renter and to the landlord and sharecropping may therefore emerge if both the renter and the landlord are risk-averse. This has foremost been outlined by Cheung who suggested that sharecropping contracts have risk-sharing advantages over fixed-rent and pay contracts.[ 6 ]To officially expose the risk-sharing statement we can follow Ray in gestating the fixed-rent and sharecropping contracts as two hazardous gambles between which the renter chooses.[ 7 ]Here, the landlord and the renter are expected to be risk-neutral and risk-averse severally. We assume a binomial distribution of end product where the good and bad degrees of end product are denoted by and, each holding a chance attached to them. In the instance of the fixed-rent contract, where is the fixed rent paid by the renter to the landlord, irrespective of end product, the landlord ‘s return is, while the renter receives or. With a sharecropping contract that yields the same expected return of the landlord the latter will have

which is set equal to, finding the portion for the landlord as

The landlord, because he is risk-neutral is apathetic between those two contracts that would give him. The renter in the good province receives in the fixed-rent contract and with the sharecropping option. By replacing we get


The sharecropping contract lowers the return to the renter in the good province, but since the portion has been chosen such that the expected pecuniary values are the same to either party under the two contracts, the renter ‘s return under the bad province is increased comparative to fixed rent. Therefore, while sharecropping and fixed-rent contracts have the same expected value, the spread of returns to the renter is narrower under sharecropping. He would therefore prefer a portion contract and the landlord cognizing this can make a larger expected final payment by cutting the renter ‘s portion to a point where the renter still prefers the sharecropping contract.

A review of the risk-sharing statement

Several writers, foremost among them Newbery in a response to Cheung ‘s observations, have brought frontward a review of the risk-sharing statement for the being of portion contracts.[ 8 ]Stiglitz notes the followers:

“ [ If ] workers and landlords can blend contracts [ i.e. workers can work for several different landlords and landlords hire workers on several different ‘contracts ‘ ] , the pure sharecropping contract can be dispensed with, in the sense that all the risk-sharing chances could be provided by uniting pure pay and pure rental contracts. ”[ 9 ]

We can formalize this statement following Bardhan/Udry.[ 10 ]We assume a production map, where denotes cultivated land, is labour input and is a random parametric quantity that stands for uncertainness in agricultural production. The production map exhibits changeless returns to scale for any. denotes the portion of end product that accrues to the renter with the staying portion being passed on to the landlord. The rental and pay rates are and severally.

In the theoretical account, the landlord rents out a fraction to the renter and hires pay labor for the staying fraction of land. The renter, in return devotes a fraction of his labor to cultivating land under a fixed-rent contract and the staying fraction to making so under a pay contract. The renter ‘s income will so be



The landlord ‘s income is given by

, as.

The landlord is better off under the sharecropping agreement than under the assorted contract if, whereas the renter is better off with a portion contract if. Therefore, the lone possible solution for a sharecropping contract to emerge is in which instance, both incomes for the landlord and the renter are equal to the income received under sharecropping. Share contracts so have no risk-sharing advantages of a suited mix of fixed-rent and pay contracts.

Several makings of this consequence have been pointed out by Singh.[ 11 ]First, we may add to the above analysis the factor of how the pay rate, the rental rate and the portion are determined. If we do this we find that possible inefficiencies arise with pay and fixed-rent contracts entirely which lead to a state of affairs where sharecropping can be advantageous in footings of hazard direction. If we imagine, for illustration, a monopoly state of affairs in the land market where the landlord chooses the rental rate in response to demand and both the landlord and the renter take the pay rate as given, we observe a monopolistic inefficiency state of affairs and a sharecropping contract with a side payment would do both parties better off.

A farther making is made by Singh on the footing that the defense of the risk-sharing principle for sharecropping lone considers linear portion assignments: “ Any additive map of end product will incline between 0 and 1 and changeless term between and can be attained for the renter through a mix of fixed-rent and pay contracts. ”[ 12 ]However, by presuming additive portion assignments we may neglect to take into history risk-sharing advantages provided by non-linear portion contracts over fixed-rent and pay contracts.

A 3rd making of the statement is made on the footing that rebuting risk-sharing advantages of portion contracts largely limit their observations to uncertainness in end product. However, frequently we have ground to believe that input is besides hazardous. This has been argued by Newbery who specifically looks at labour market imperfectnesss that might impact hazard in input.[ 13 ]

Sharecropping and information dissymmetries: inducements and testing

Incentive Provision and Sharecropping

So far we have looked at sharecropping contracts as a response to uncertainness in agricultural production and we have seen that portion contracts may supply certain risk-sharing advantages that under certain fortunes, nevertheless, can every bit be provided by a mix of fixed-rent and pay contracts.

In fact, risk-sharing is non the lone principle for the being of sharecropping and we may understand portion contracts as a response to information dissymmetries bing in agricultural production. One job originating from such information dissymmetries is moral jeopardy. Often labour input by the renter can non be observed by the landlord, but merely end product produced, taking to a state of affairs in which the renter can ‘shirk ‘ and undersupply labour input. The landlord and the renter will happen themselves in a chief agent relationship where any contractual signifier will hold to cover with the job of bring oning high attempt exerted by the renter through equal incentive proviso.[ 14 ]

There are assorted theoretical accounts explicating portion contracts in footings of the presence of inducement jobs originating from labor as an unobservable input. These include the incentive insurance tradeoff theoretical account, the reversible inducement theoretical account every bit good as limited liability theoretical accounts indicating to wealth restraints on the portion of the renters.[ 15 ]We will look at the reversible imaginative job put frontward by Eswaran and Kotwal in more item.

Eswaran and Kotwal show that sharecropping may emerge as a contractual signifier when both the landlord and the renter provide labor inputs that are non discernible to the other party.[ 16 ]In their theoretical account both the renter and the landlord are risk-neutral and the sum of land is given, such that the land variable is ignored. The production map is given by where is managerial input, is effectual labor input, is expected end product and is a random variable with expected value 1. We define effectual labor input in footings of two elements ) , where is supervisory input, is labour hired and is a parametric quantity that denotes the comparative importance of supervising in one unit of effectual labor. If we substitute into the initial production map we obtain.

It is assumed in the theoretical account that hired labors can be easy observed, whereas managerial and supervisory attempt can non and that the renter and the landlord possess different abilities in exercising these attempts. More specifically, the landlord is in a place where he has more managerial qualities through entree to markets, information and establishments and hence can carry on direction more expeditiously. The rearward holds true for the renter who can break supply the supervising of household labor. This relationship is expressed in footings of two parametric quantities and which denote the fraction of the landlord ‘s clip spent on direction equivalent to one hr of the renter ‘s clip spent so and the fraction of the renter ‘s clip spent on supervising equivalent to the landlord ‘s clip spent so severally.[ 17 ]

Eswaran and Kotwal execute numerical computations to look at the results, i.e. the expected net income of the landlord, of three different contractual signifiers, where in the first type of contract the landlord cultivates his land through hired labor and provides direction and supervising attempts himself. A farther possibility is for the landlord to rent out his land to a renter to supply and while engaging labor. Last, the landlord and the renter can supply and severally, each pulling on their comparative advantage in their specialized field, in which instance they enter a sharecropping contract. Since neither will obtain their full fringy merchandise and attempt is unobservable as outlined at the beginning inducement jobs arise.

The consequences obtained from the theoretical account indicate that the pick of contract will depend on the values that the parametric quantities and take. If they are low, sharecropping will be preferred to the landlord, while if merely or are high he will take a fixed-rent or a fixed-wage contract severally. This means that a sharecropping contract will emerge if the landlord and the renter show considerable advantages in their field. More by and large, the theoretical account allows us to reason that sharecropping contracts can be seen as a response to moral jeopardy jobs originating from a pooling of labor inputs by the landlord and the renter.

Adverse choice: showing as a principle for sharecropping

Another principle that has been advanced for the being of sharecropping is testing.[ 18 ]While explicating portion contracts in footings of moral jeopardy jobs originating from information dissymmetries, showing is a device to react to adverse choice jobs, likewise occurred through asymmetric information. The statement for sharecropping that relies on inauspicious choice provinces that there are renters with different types of abilities and portion contracts can be used to screen renters harmonizing to these abilities. The premise is that by offering a set of different contracts different ability renters will take the contract that best tantrums their ability. Sharecropping so has a function to play in the set of different contracts that are offered for testing and will most probably be chosen by low ability renters.[ 19 ]

To show this, we follow Hallagan ‘s statement formalised by Singh where a individual landlord has two indistinguishable secret plans of land and several possible renters, one of which is of higher ability than the others.[ 20 ]Since the secret plans can non be cultivated by one renter the landlord aims to pull a higher ability and a lower ability renter. The expected end product of the high ability and the low ability renter are and severally, with end product being stochastic such that ability can non be derived from end product. Because of this, the landlord can non know apart between two renters by bear downing them different rents: with their types being hidden the high ability renter would claim to be of a lower ability and demand a lower rent.

The theoretical account shows that the landlord can make best if he chooses a set of contracts that offers a fixed-rent and a portion contract to be chosen by the high ability and the low ability renter severally. For the desired contract choice to happen, the renters ‘ several inducement compatibility restraints and must keep. We see that the high ability renter prefers the fixed-rent contract whereas the low ability renter will prefer the portion contract, as on rearranging we obtain which if penchants were reversed would non keep.

The landlord maximises his expected income by taking capable to the renters ‘ inducement compatibility and engagement restraints and. We foremost see the engagement restraint of the high ability renter to be adhering, such that with the landlord ‘s expected income. In this instance the this expected income is maximised by puting so that the low ability renter merely accepts the portion contract and the high ability renter is better off than with the option

The landlord so receives

If the low ability renter is apathetic between the two contracts, so. Since from the engagement restraints must be the same, the landlord ‘s expected income is


which is lower and therefore the landlord is better off with the first possibility.

In fact, the engagement restraint will be adhering for the renter who has an inducement to feign to be a different type when offered two different contracts. For the landlord the showing contract is better every bit opposed to the option of bear downing a low rent or a high rent, under the status that the difference in productiveness between the high ability and the low ability renter are non excessively dramatic. As a consequence, we can reason that portion contracts can supply a response to the being information dissymmetries, and more specifically concealed types of renters in agribusiness.


In this essay, we have departed from the rule of Marshallian inefficiency of sharecropping as a footing to look at one of the prevailing principles for sharecropping which has been risk-sharing between the renter and the landlord as a response to uncertainness in agricultural production. We have discussed the review of this principle for sharecropping which consists in showing that under changeless returns to scale sharecropping agreements have no excess risk-sharing advantages over a suited mix of fixed-rent and pay contracts and have argued that under certain circumstance the risk-sharing function of sharecropping can be upheld.

As opposed to the principle derived from uncertainness, we have looked at those principles underlying portion contracts that deal with asymmetric information to explicate the continuity of sharecropping among agricultural contractual signifiers. We have first looked at moral jeopardy issues originating from the non-observability of labour input or hidden action by the renter on the portion of the landlord and have identified sharecropping as a response to this job through incentive proviso.

Furthermore, we have considered the 2nd job originating from information dissymmetries when the types of possible renters are concealed. We have outlined how screening as a response to inauspicious choice jobs can affect the offering of sharecropping contracts co-existing with other sorts of contracts taking renters to self-select themselves for an appropriate type of contract. We can therefore conclude, that given the being of information dissymmetries, sharecropping contracts may supply desired contractual results which can explicate their prevalence in agricultural production.