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Human-Environmental Influences and Interactions in Shifting Agriculture When Farmers Form Expectations Rationally


  • D W Jones

    (Energy Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA)

  • R V O'Neill

    (Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, USA)


This paper contains a study of the response of shifting agriculture to several social and environmental changes in circumstances in which farmers form in a relatively sophisticated manner their expectations of the future values of key economic variables. Farmers are ‘given’ a model of expectations formation in which the expected future value of variables interact in the same manner as in the current period. With this structure of expectations, the responses of the length of fallow period (the inverse of the percentage of available land cultivated in the initial period), the total area of land under cultivation and lying fallow in the initial period of a rotational cycle, and the initial-period wage rate and spatial structure of land rent to changes in several social and environmental parameters are examined. Several salient characteristics commonly attributed to shifting, or rotational, agriculture are replicated. Higher crop prices and increased population shorten fallow periods. Those same changes also increase the total area of land under shifting agriculture. Higher interest rates also shorten fallow periods. Fallows are longer at locations farther from central markets. Less commonly recognized is that social feedbacks operate to reduce pressure on more fragile land, although this does not imply that, other things being equal, fragile tropical land will not be ‘overused’ in an ecological sense.

Suggested Citation

  • D W Jones & R V O'Neill, 1993. "Human-Environmental Influences and Interactions in Shifting Agriculture When Farmers Form Expectations Rationally," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 25(1), pages 121-136, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:25:y:1993:i:1:p:121-136

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    Cited by:

    1. Walker, Robert & Homma, Alfredo Kingo Oyama, 1996. "Land use and land cover dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon: an overview," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 67-80, July.
    2. Scatena, Frederick N. & Walker, Robert T. & Homma, Alfredo Kingo Oyama & de Conto, Arnaldo Jose & Ferreira, Celio Armando Palheta & de Amorim Carvalho, Rui & Neves da Rocha, Antonio C.P. & Moreira dos, 1996. "Cropping and fallowing sequences of small farms in the "terra firme" landscape of the Brazilian Amazon: a case study from Santarem, Para," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 29-40, July.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Perz, Stephen G. & Walker, Robert T., 2002. "Household Life Cycles and Secondary Forest Cover Among Small Farm Colonists in the Amazon," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1009-1027, June.

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