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Modelling Land Degradation In Low-Input Agriculture: The 'Population Pressure Hypothesis' Revised

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  • Pascual, Unai
  • Barbier, Edward B.

Abstract

This paper provides a theoretical framework to analyse land quality and labour allocation decisions by poor rural households in the context of increased population densities in slash-and-burn (shifting cultivation) agro-ecosystems. A bio-economic optimal control model is presented and its results calibrated with data from two farming communities from Yucatan (Mexico). The ecological-economic model restates the validity of the neo-Malthusian 'Population Pressure Hypothesis' (PPH) as a major factor of land degradation. It is pointed out that 'fallow crises' may be overcome when the production elasticity of total farm labour is sufficiently high compared to the elasticity of substituion between farm labour and soil quality. Calibration of the model also suggests that the strategy by poor households is to allocate more labour to clearing forestland when population densities increase, hence adding to 'population pressure' on the forest commons.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Association of Agricultural Economists in its series 2003 Annual Meeting, August 16-22, 2003, Durban, South Africa with number 25827.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae03:25827

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Keywords: Land Economics/Use;

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  1. Larson, Bruce A. & Bromley, Daniel W., 1990. "Property rights, externalities, and resource degradation : Locating the tragedy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 235-262, October.
  2. Krautkraemer, Jeffrey A., 1994. "Population growth, soil fertility, and agricultural intensification," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 403-428, August.
  3. Edward B. Barbier, 1990. "The Farm-Level Economics of Soil Conservation: The Uplands of Java," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(2), pages 199-211.
  4. Ardila Sergio & Innes Robert, 1993. "Risk, Risk Aversion, and On-Farm Soil Depletion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages S27-S45, July.
  5. Bluffstone Randall A., 1995. "The Effect of Labor Market Performance on Deforestation in Developing Countries under Open Access: An Example from Rural Nepal," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 42-63, July.
  6. Barrett, Scott, 1991. "Optimal soil conservation and the reform of agricultural pricing policies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 167-187, October.
  7. Barrett, Christopher B., 1999. "Stochastic food prices and slash-and-burn agriculture," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 161-176, May.
  8. Grepperud, Sverre, 1997. "Poverty, Land Degradation and Climatic Uncertainty," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 586-608, October.
  9. Albers, H. J. & Goldbach, M. J., 2000. "Irreversible ecosystem change, species competition, and shifting cultivation," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 261-280, July.
  10. Place, Frank & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Population, Tenure, and Natural Resource Management: The Case of Customary Land Area in Malawi," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 13-32, January.
  11. Perrings, Charles, 1989. "An optimal path to extinction? : Poverty and resource degradation in the open agrarian economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 1-24, January.
  12. Tachibana, Towa & Nguyen, Trung M. & Otsuka, Keijiro, 2001. "Agricultural Intensification versus Extensification: A Case Study of Deforestation in the Northern-Hill Region of Vietnam," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 44-69, January.
  13. Grepperud, Sverre, 1996. "Population Pressure and Land Degradation: The Case of Ethiopia," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 18-33, January.
  14. Lopez, Ramon, 1997. "Environmental externalities in traditional agriculture and the impact of trade liberalization: the case of Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 17-39, June.
  15. Lopez, Ramon, 1998. "The Tragedy of the Commons in Cote d'Ivoire Agriculture: Empirical Evidence and Implications for Evaluating Trade Policies," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 105-31, January.
  16. Coomes, Oliver T. & Grimard, Franque & Burt, Graeme J., 2000. "Tropical forests and shifting cultivation: secondary forest fallow dynamics among traditional farmers of the Peruvian Amazon," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 109-124, January.
  17. Miranowski, John & Shortle, J., 1987. "Intertemporal Soil Resource Use: Is It Socially Excessive?," Staff General Research Papers 10701, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  18. Salehi-Isfahani, Djavad, 1988. "Technology and preferences in the Boserup model of agricultural growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 175-191, March.
  19. Angelsen, Arild, 1999. "Agricultural expansion and deforestation: modelling the impact of population, market forces and property rights," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 185-218, February.
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