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Simple Model of Resource Degradation and Agricultural Productivity in a Subsistence Economy


  • Kevin Sylwester


Resource degradation poses problems in many developing countries. In the model presented in the paper, current agricultural production lowers future land productivity. Since agents must produce to meet current subsistence needs, this can lead to a poverty trap in which land quality is continuously degraded over time. However, the model shows that not all subsistence farmers fall into this trap, although it might be difficult in practice to distinguish among those belonging to each case. The model also demonstrates why government programs such as income transfers, loans, and price controls might have differing effects upon economic outcomes depending upon the specific circumstances of farmers. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Sylwester, 2004. "Simple Model of Resource Degradation and Agricultural Productivity in a Subsistence Economy," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(1), pages 128-140, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:8:y:2004:i:1:p:128-140

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Smith, 2016. "The Two Fragilities: Vulnerability to Conflict,Environmental Stress, and Their Interactions as Challenges to Ending Poverty," Working Papers 2016-1, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. Yoshito Takasaki, 2011. "Economic models of shifting cultivation: a review," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2011-006, Economics, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    3. Solomon Asfaw & Nancy McCarthy & Leslie Lipper & Aslihan Arslan & Andrea Cattaneo, 2016. "What determines farmers’ adaptive capacity? Empirical evidence from Malawi," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(3), pages 643-664, June.
    4. Yoshito Takasaki & Oliver T. Coomes & Christian Abizaid & Stéphanie Brisson, 2014. "An Efficient Nonmarket Institution under Imperfect Markets: Labor Sharing for Tropical Forest Clearing," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 96(3), pages 711-732.
    5. Asfaw, Solomon & Lipper, Leslie, 2015. "Adaptation to Climate Change and its Impacts on Food Security: Evidence from Niger," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 225667, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

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