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Poverty, inequality and environmental resources: quantitative analysis of rural households

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  • Will Cavendish

Abstract

Rural households have been suspected to rely heavily on goods and services freely provided by environmental resources. However, there has been no adequate quantitative analysis of this issue due to a lack of appropriate household data sets encompassing economic and environmental data. We use a purpose-collected 213 household data set from rural Zimbabwe to investigate the impact of incorporating this missing source of household welfare on quantitative analysis of the measurement and causes of rural poverty and inequality. Incorporating environmental income in the household accounts results in dramatic and significant reductions in measured poverty, 50 percent or more over income as conventionally measured. Environmental income is also strongly and significantly equalising, bringing about roughly a 30 percent reduction in measured inequality. So access to commons resources has a substantial impact on poverty and inequality. However, including the value of environmental utilisations leaves analysis of the causes of rural differentiation unchanged: these resources do not alleviate the poverty trap.

Suggested Citation

  • Will Cavendish, 1999. "Poverty, inequality and environmental resources: quantitative analysis of rural households," CSAE Working Paper Series 1999-09, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:1999-09
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    1. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 2000. "Halting Degradation of Natural Resources: Is There a Role for Rural Communities?," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290612.
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    1. Thondhlana, Gladman & Muchapondwa, Edwin, 2014. "Dependence on environmental resources and implications for household welfare: Evidence from the Kalahari drylands, South Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 59-67.
    2. Bir Chhetri & Helle Larsen & Carsten Smith-Hall, 2015. "Environmental resources reduce income inequality and the prevalence, depth and severity of poverty in rural Nepal," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 513-530, June.
    3. López-Feldman, Alejandro, 2014. "Shocks, Income and Wealth: Do They Affect the Extraction of Natural Resources by Rural Households?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(S1), pages 91-100.
    4. Buys, Piet & Chomitz, Ken & Dasgupta, Susmita & Deichmann, Uwe & Larsen, Bjorn & Meisner, Craig & Nygard, Jostein & Pandey, Kiran & Pinnoi, Nat & Wheeler, David, 2006. "The economics of decentralized poverty-environment programs: An application for Lao PDR," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 811-824, October.
    5. Babulo, Bedru & Muys, Bart & Nega, Fredu & Tollens, Eric & Nyssen, Jan & Deckers, Jozef & Mathijs, Erik, 2009. "The economic contribution of forest resource use to rural livelihoods in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 123-131, March.
    6. Dasgupta, Partha, 2000. "Reproductive externalities and fertility behaviour," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 619-644, May.
    7. Das, Nimai, 2010. "Incidence of forest income on reduction of inequality: Evidence from forest dependent households in milieu of joint forest management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1617-1625, June.
    8. Poulton, Colin & Davies, Rob & Matshe, Innocent & Urey, Ian, 2002. "A Review Of Zimbabwes Agricultural Economic Policies: 1980 2000," ADU Working Papers 10922, Imperial College at Wye, Department of Agricultural Sciences.
    9. Khalid Zaman & Waseem Ikram & Iqtidar Ali Shah, 2010. "Bivariate cointegration between poverty and environment: a case study of Pakistan (1980-2009)," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(8), pages 977-989.
    10. Lopez-Feldman, Alejandro & Mora, Jorge & Taylor, J. Edward, 2006. "Does Natural Resource Extraction Mitigate Poverty and Inequality? Evidence from Rural Mexico," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21362, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    11. Dasgupta, Susmita & Deichmann, Uwe & Meisner, Craig & Wheeler, David, 2003. "The poverty/environment nexus in Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2960, The World Bank.
    12. Narain, Urvashi & Gupta, Shreekant & van 't Veld, Klaas, 2008. "Poverty and resource dependence in rural India," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 161-176, May.
    13. Dasgupta, Susmita & Deichmann, Uwe & Meisner, Craig & Wheeler, David, 2005. "Where is the Poverty-Environment Nexus? Evidence from Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 617-638, April.
    14. López-Feldman, Alejandro & Chávez, Estefanía, 2017. "Remittances and Natural Resource Extraction: Evidence from Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 69-79.
    15. Ntuli, Herbert & Muchapondwa, Edwin, 2017. "Effects of wildlife resources on community welfare in Southern Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 572-583.
    16. Cavendish, William, 2000. "Empirical Regularities in the Poverty-Environment Relationship of Rural Households: Evidence from Zimbabwe," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(11), pages 1979-2003, November.
    17. Nielsen, Martin Reinhardt & Pouliot, Mariève & Kim Bakkegaard, Riyong, 2012. "Combining income and assets measures to include the transitory nature of poverty in assessments of forest dependence: Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 37-46.
    18. Mamo, Getachew & Sjaastad, Espen & Vedeld, Pal, 2007. "Economic dependence on forest resources: A case from Dendi District, Ethiopia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(8), pages 916-927, May.
    19. Partha Dasgupta, 2000. "Population and Resources: An Exploration of Reproductive and Environmental Externalities," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(4), pages 643-689.

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