Absentee Landowning

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Absentee Landowning

 

a form of land tenure under which land as a condition of production is separated from the landowner. Although he does not participate in the process of production, the landowner receives the monetary income. Absentee landowning arises with the decay of feudalism and the appearance of commodity-money relations; it acquires great socioeconomic importance under capitalism, especially in the era of imperialism. Under these conditions, the development of absentee landowning is connected first with the separation of property in land and land as a means of production (when property in land is turned into simple title-bearing rent). Second, it is connected with the separation of capital as property and capital as function (when the absent owner of the land and the capital hires a manager to administer his farm and receives both rent and profit from it). In both cases, the absentee landowner receives unearned income, the source of his parasitic existence. This means that land incomes are drawn away from the sphere of agricultural production, which was one reason for the protracted lag of agriculture behind other branches of the capitalist economy. In the USA, for example, the proportion of land rented out by absentee landowners constitutes two-thirds of all the land area rented out. In 1963, 69 percent of the total rental payments went to absentee landowners. Absentee landowning is enormously important in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, where it is an integral part of the total system of feudal and semifeudal agricultural relations and of latifundium. In a number of Latin American countries, up to 90 percent of the large landowners are absentees. The communist and workers’ parties of many countries have made the expropriation of land belonging to absentee landowners the main task of the parties’ agrarian programs.

B. P. KUZNETSOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.