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Population, poverty, and the natural environment

In: Handbook of Environmental Economics


  • Dasgupta, Partha


This chapter studies the interface in poor countries of population growth, rural poverty, and deterioration of the local natural-resource base, a subject that has been much neglected by modern demographers and development economists. The motivations for procreation in rural communities of the poorest regions of the world are analyzed, and recent work on the relevance of gender relationships to such motivations is summarized. Four potentially significant social externalities associated with fertility behavior and use of the local natural-resource base are identified. Three are shown to be pronatalist in their effects, while the fourth is shown to be ambiguous, in that it can be either pro- or anti-natalist. It is shown that one of the externalities may even provide an invidious link between fertility decisions and the use of the local natural-resource base. The fourth type of externality is used to develop a theory of fertility transitions in the contemporary world. The theory views such transitions as disequilibrium phenomena.

Suggested Citation

  • Dasgupta, Partha, 2003. "Population, poverty, and the natural environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 5, pages 191-247, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:envchp:1-05

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    Cited by:

    1. Rodríguez, Luis C. & Pascual, Unai & Muradian, Roldan & Pazmino, Nathalie & Whitten, Stuart, 2011. "Towards a unified scheme for environmental and social protection: Learning from PES and CCT experiences in developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2163-2174, September.
    2. Lili Li & Yiwu Zeng & Yanmei He & Qiuxia Qin & Jianhao Wang & Changluan Fu, 2022. "Developing Village-Based Green Economy in an Endogenous Way: A Case Study from China," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(13), pages 1-22, June.
    3. Constant, Karine & Nourry, Carine & Seegmuller, Thomas, 2014. "Population growth in polluting industrialization," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 229-247.
    4. Vincent, Jeffrey R., 2012. "Ecosystem services and green growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6233, The World Bank.
    5. Szu‐Tung Lin & Han‐Jen Niu, 2018. "Green consumption: Environmental knowledge, environmental consciousness, social norms, and purchasing behavior," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(8), pages 1679-1688, December.
    6. World Bank, 2007. "Poverty and Environment : Understanding Linkages at the Household Level," World Bank Publications - Reports 7744, The World Bank Group.
    7. repec:thr:techub:10022:y:2021:i:1:p:152-170 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Peprah Prince & Abalo Emmanuel Mawuli & Amoako Jones & Nyonyo Julius & Duah Williams Agyemang & Adomako Isaac, 2017. "“The Reality from the Myth”: The poor as main agents of forest degradation: Lessons from Ashanti Region, Ghana," Environmental & Socio-economic Studies, Sciendo, vol. 5(3), pages 1-11, September.
    9. Shyang-Chyuan Fang, 2021. "Understanding students' intention and actual eco-friendly behavior: A qualitative research in University," Technium Social Sciences Journal, Technium Science, vol. 22(1), pages 152-170, August.
    10. Dasgupta, Partha, 2010. "The Place of Nature in Economic Development," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Dani Rodrik & Mark Rosenzweig (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 0, pages 4977-5046, Elsevier.
    11. Wu, Daphne C. & Shannon, Geordan & Reynales-Shigematsu, Luz Myriam & Saenz de Miera, Belen & Llorente, Blanca & Jha, Prabhat, 2021. "Implications of household tobacco and alcohol use on child health and women's welfare in six low and middle-income countries: An analysis from a gender perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 281(C).
    12. World Bank, 2007. "Poverty and Environment : Understanding Linkages at the Household Level," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 6924, December.
    13. Karine Constant & Carine Nourry & Thomas Seegmuller, 2011. "Polluting Industrialization," Working Papers halshs-00633608, HAL.
    14. Himayatullah Khan & Ehsan Inamullah & Khadija Shams, 2009. "Population, environment and poverty in Pakistan: linkages and empirical evidence," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 375-392, April.
    15. Barbier, Edward B., 2012. "Natural capital, ecological scarcity and rural poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6232, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General


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