absentee ownership,system under which a person (or a corporation) controls and derives income from land in a region where he does not reside. Abuses existed in absenteeism in pre-Revolutionary France, in 19th-century Ireland, in E and SE Europe before World War I, and in some oil-producing nations of the Middle East as late as the second half of the 20th cent. Revolution and reform have abolished or greatly reduced the amount of absentee control throughout the world. In the United States the term has been applied to the concentration of economic power through various corporate devices. Chain stores and branch banking are sometimes classified as types of absentee ownership.
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