This study systematically reviews the contribution of the land reform policy
with an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses economics, history, and social work. Specifically, this study estimates the contribution of the land reform policy to society in total, using cost-benefit analysis. The contribution of the land reform policy is calculated by dividing it into two: the monetary and non-monetary values. The monetary value section includes savings, compensation, administration costs, asset, and agricultural productivity. The non-monetary section includes equality, the actual abolition of feudalism, past liquidation, social cohesion, educational opportunity, and national security.
Preliminary findings of this study are as follows: Regarding the monetary value, the present value of the yield increase from the increase in agrarian productivity for 20 years was 3.06 tons of rice at a 5% discount rate. After deducting administration costs, estimated to be 0.82 tons of rice, the present value of the net yield increase was 2.24 tons of rice (equivalent to KRW 43,112). From the sales for the land reform, landlords lost 11.54 tons (equivalent to KRW 56,251) while recipients gained 10.05 tons (equivalent to KRW 50.912) per hectare. Combining those results, I can conclude that there was an increase of over 0.75 tons (=2.24 tons of rice-11.54 tons+10.05 tons, equivalent to KRW 37,773) per hectare through the land reform for the society in total. Regarding the non-monetary value, the positive effects of this land distribution on equity, the actual abolition of feudalism, and past liquidation (punishment for pro-Japanese sympathizers), resulting in social cohesion, educational opportunity, national security, and further, agricultural productivity, are found.
Land distribution in the 1950s in South Korea can be considered to have led to rapid economic growth by alleviating inequality of assets, and further, inequality of real income. In that sense, we can say that it acted as the greatest social welfare policy that provided people with a minimal economic baseline. This land distribution policy was a drastic measure; however, there are some points that governments in the world can adopt for alleviating poverty and inequality. Specifically, it will be beneficial to consider similar policy concepts for distributing properties in the North Korean area after Korean unification and for developing asset-building policies for developing countries.