The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Research on credit markets from developing economies, as well as work on the origin of institutions in general, has suggested that land inequality may play a role in determining financial development. In this paper we establish empirically that initial land inequality is a significant predictor of financial depth across countries, even while controlling for other predictors such as legal origin, ethnic fractionalization, and income inequality. To examine this relationship we have created a new measure of land distribution within countries that builds upon the work of Deininger and Squire (1998) by explicitly accounting for landlessness. In addition to being a significant predictor of financial development, land inequality is found to be uncorrelated with other fundamental characteristics of economies, suggesting its possible use in a wider range of research.