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What drives deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? Evidence from satellite and socioeconomic data

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  • Pfaff, Alexander S.P.
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    Abstract

    This paper analyzes the determinants of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. From a model of optimal use, it derives and then estimates a deforestation equation on county-level data for the period 1978 to 1988. The data include a deforestation measure from satellite images, which is a great advance in that it allows improved within-county analysis. Evidence exists that: increased road density in a county leads to more deforestation in that county and in neighboring counties; development projects were associated with deforestation in the 1970s but not in the 1980s; greater distance from markets south of the Amazon leads to less deforestation; and better soil quality leads to more deforestation. The results for government provision of credit are mixed across specifications. The population density, although the primary explanatory variable in most previous empirical work, does not have a significant effect when all the variables motivated within the model are included. However, a quadratic specification yields a more robust population result: the first few people entering an empty county have significantly more impact than the same number of people added to a densely populated county. This result suggests the importance of the spatial distribution of population.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1772.

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    Date of creation: 01 May 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1772

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    Keywords: Environmental Economics&Policies; Wetlands; Climate Change; Banks&Banking Reform; Water Conservation; Environmental Economics&Policies; Climate Change; Energy and Environment; Forestry; Banks&Banking Reform;

    References

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    1. Binswanger, Hans P. & Khandker, Shahidur R & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1989. "How infrastructure and financial institutions affect agricultural output and investment in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 163, The World Bank.
    2. Nerlove, M. & Sadka, E., 1989. "Von Thuenen'S Model Of The Dual Economy," Papers 9-89, Tel Aviv.
    3. Deacon Robert T., 1995. "Assessing the Relationship between Government Policy and Deforestation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-18, January.
    4. Jones, Donald W. & O'Neill, Robert V., 1994. "Development policies, rural land use, and tropical deforestation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 753-771, December.
    5. Robert T. Deacon, 1994. "Deforestation and the Rule of Law in a Cross-Section of Countries," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(4), pages 414-430.
    6. Jeffrey R. Vincent, 1990. "Rent Capture and the Feasibility of Tropical Forest Management," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(2), pages 212-223.
    7. Mattos, Marli Maria & Uhl, Christopher, 1994. "Economic and ecological perspectives on ranching in the Eastern Amazon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 145-158, February.
    8. Scherr, Sara J., 1995. "Economic factors in farmer adoption of agroforestry: Patterns observed in Western Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 787-804, May.
    9. Chomitz, Kenneth M & Gray, David A, 1996. "Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 487-512, September.
    10. Jones, Donald W. & Dale, Virginia H. & Beauchamp, John J. & Pedlowski, Marcos A. & O'Neill, Robert V., 1995. "Farming in Rondonia," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 155-188, August.
    11. William F. Hyde & Roger A. Sedjo, 1992. "Managing Tropical Forests: Reflections on the Rent Distribution Discussion," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 343-350.
    12. Maureen Cropper & Charles Griffiths & Muthukumara Mani, 1999. "Roads, Population Pressures, and Deforestation in Thailand, 1976-1989," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 75(1), pages 58-73.
    13. Cropper, Maureen & Griffiths, Charles, 1994. "The Interaction of Population Growth and Environmental Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 250-54, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Chomitz, Kenneth M. & Thomas, Timothy S., 2001. "Geographic patterns of land use and land intensity in the Brazilian Amazon," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2687, The World Bank.
    2. Robert N. Stavins, 1999. "The Costs of Carbon Sequestration: A Revealed-Preference Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 994-1009, September.
    3. Chomitz, Kenneth M., 2000. "Evaluating carbon offsets from forestry and energy projects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2357, The World Bank.

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