Arnold Kling

Reviewing De Soto

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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In the December 2001 Journal of Economic Literature, which I just received in the mail, Christopher Woodruff wrote a less-than-glowing review of Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital. De Soto's shtick is that developing countries could give their citizens liquid assets by granting squatters title to the land and shanties that they now occupy.

But it is unfortunate that he did not consider the evidence and experience on previous attempts at land titling...

De Soto's own experience in Peru suggests that land titling by itself is not likely to have much effect.

Woodruff played it safe by placing this review in an academic journal. I had the temerity to put my review on, and I got nailed for it. So far, it has received 25 "not helpful" votes, with only 15 "helpful" votes. What that means is that De Soto's partisans are quite riled up by my failure to support their hero. It also tells you that the community feedback process on Amazon creates large disincentives for people to write negative reviews.

Discussion Question. What other factors tend to bias the ratings on Amazon?

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