Ecological Endowments, Poverty Dynamics, and Land Use among Smallholders in the Brazilian Amazon

Gilvan R. Guedes, Brown University
Leah K. VanWey, Brown University
Mariângela Antigo, Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional (CEDEPLAR), UFMG
Ana Machado, Centro de Desenvolvimento e Planejamento Regional (CEDEPLAR), UFMG
Eduardo S. Brondizio, Indiana University

Rural poverty has traditionally been approached with the view that poor adopt low-technological and ecologically threatening land use practices. The assumption behind these studies is that rural smallholders do not act strategically, only considering their immediate consumption needs. Scholars have shown instead that families develop endogenous strategies to cope with threats to long-term well-being maintenance. These results suggest that instead of a consequence, environmental constraints can be a driving force of poverty and a challenge for poverty alleviation. Drawing on our previous work, we analyze the extent to which poverty is sensitive to change in natural capital, land use strategies and biophysical characteristics of the lot among rural smallholders in the Amazon. Household level data is used to estimate the transitional probabilities on poverty and the time structure of poverty (Markovian approach). We also use the data to simulate the impact of changes in selected environmental dimensions of rural livelihoods.

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Presented in Session 27: Population and Land Use