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What drives deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? Evidence from satellite and socioeconomic data

  • Pfaff, Alexander S.P.
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    This paper analyzes the determinants of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. From a model of optimal use, it derives and then estimates a deforestation equation on county-level data for the period 1978 to 1988. The data include a deforestation measure from satellite images, which is a great advance in that it allows improved within-county analysis. Evidence exists that: increased road density in a county leads to more deforestation in that county and in neighboring counties; development projects were associated with deforestation in the 1970s but not in the 1980s; greater distance from markets south of the Amazon leads to less deforestation; and better soil quality leads to more deforestation. The results for government provision of credit are mixed across specifications. The population density, although the primary explanatory variable in most previous empirical work, does not have a significant effect when all the variables motivated within the model are included. However, a quadratic specification yields a more robust population result: the first few people entering an empty county have significantly more impact than the same number of people added to a densely populated county. This result suggests the importance of the spatial distribution of population.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1772.

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    Date of creation: 01 May 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1772
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    1. William F. Hyde & Roger A. Sedjo, 1992. "Managing Tropical Forests: Reflections on the Rent Distribution Discussion," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 68(3), pages 343-350.
    2. Nerlove, Marc, 1988. "Von Thunen' s Model of the Dual Economy," 1988 Conference, August 24-31, 1988, Buenos Aires, Argentina 183096, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Jones, Donald W. & O'Neill, Robert V., 1994. "Development policies, rural land use, and tropical deforestation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 753-771, December.
    4. Binswanger, Hans P. & Khandker, Shahidur R. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1993. "How infrastructure and financial institutions affect agricultural output and investment in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 337-366, August.
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    6. Robert T. Deacon, 1994. "Deforestation and the Rule of Law in a Cross-Section of Countries," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(4), pages 414-430.
    7. Jeffrey R. Vincent, 1990. "Rent Capture and the Feasibility of Tropical Forest Management," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(2), pages 212-223.
    8. Chomitz, Kenneth M & Gray, David A, 1996. "Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 487-512, September.
    9. Jones, Donald W. & Dale, Virginia H. & Beauchamp, John J. & Pedlowski, Marcos A. & O'Neill, Robert V., 1995. "Farming in Rondonia," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 155-188, August.
    10. Scherr, Sara J., 1995. "Economic factors in farmer adoption of agroforestry: Patterns observed in Western Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 787-804, May.
    11. Cropper, Maureen & Griffiths, Charles, 1994. "The Interaction of Population Growth and Environmental Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 250-54, May.
    12. Deacon Robert T., 1995. "Assessing the Relationship between Government Policy and Deforestation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-18, January.
    13. Maureen Cropper & Charles Griffiths & Muthukumara Mani, 1999. "Roads, Population Pressures, and Deforestation in Thailand, 1976-1989," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 75(1), pages 58-73.
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