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Effects of Poverty on Deforestation: Distinguishing behaviour from location

  • Suzi Kerr
  • Alexander Pfaff
  • Romina Cavatassi

    (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization)

  • Benjamin Davis

    (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization)

  • Leslie Lipper

    (Agricultural and Development Economics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization)

  • Arturo Sanchez
  • Jason Timmins

We summarize existing theoretical claims linking poverty to rates of deforestation and then examine this linkage empirically for Costa Rica during the 20th century using an econometric approach that addresses the irreversibilities in deforestation. Our data facilitate an empirical analysis of the implications for deforestation of where the poor live. Without controlling for this, impacts of poverty per se are confounded by richer areas being different from the areas inhabited by the poor, who we expect to find on more marginal lands, for instance less profitable lands. Controlling for locations’ characteristics, we find that poorer areas are cleared more rapidly. This result suggests that poverty reduction aids forest conservation.

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Paper provided by Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA) in its series Working Papers with number 04-19.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fao:wpaper:0419
Contact details of provider: Postal: Agricultural Sector in Economic Development Service FAO Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00153 Rome Italy
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Fax: +39 06 57055522
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  1. Stavins, Robert N & Jaffe, Adam B, 1990. "Unintended Impacts of Public Investments on Private Decisions: The Depletion of Forested Wetlands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 337-52, June.
  2. Angelsen, Arild & Kaimowitz, David, 1999. "Rethinking the Causes of Deforestation: Lessons from Economic Models," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(1), pages 73-98, February.
  3. Reardon, Thomas & Vosti, Stephen A., 1995. "Links between rural poverty and the environment in developing countries: Asset categories and investment poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 1495-1506, September.
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