Sharecropping has been the subject of much debate among economists concerned with static efficiency and, to some extent, with equity. This paper shifts the focus to the dynamics of structural change. The research reported adds to the discussion a detailed account of a large number of sharecropping contracts and why they vary, and offers a theory of the relationship between sharecropping as practised in the Ecuadorian province of Carchi and a particular pattern of structural change which is described as the transition to an agrarian structure dominated by capitalised family farms. The prevalent use of wage labour on sharecropped land, and the place of sharecropping in in

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