Migration, remittances and forests : disentangling the impact of population and economic growth on forests
International migration has increased rapidly in recent decades and this has been accompanied by a remarkable increase in transfers made by migrants to their home countries. This paper investigates the effect of the rural economic growth brought about by migration and remittances on Nepal's Himalayan forests. The authors assemble a unique village-panel dataset combining remote sensing data on land use and forest cover change with data from the census and multiple rounds of living standards surveys to test various inter-relationships between population, economic growth and forests. The results suggest that rural economic growth spurred by remittances has had an overall positive impact on forests. The paper also finds that remittances caused an increase in rural wages and an increase in income, but a decrease in land prices. Considered together, however, the relationship between forests and remittances is driven largely through the income channel, indicating that the demand for amenities provided by forests in the rural Nepali setting may have been more important than factor prices in influencing land use changes for the period of the study.
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