Deprived Land-Use Intensification in Shifting Cultivation: The Population Pressure Hypothesis Revisited
Agricultural Economics, Vol. 34, pp. 155-165, 2006
Posted: 8 Jun 2006
This article provides a theoretical framework, based on optimal control theory, to analyze farm households' land-use intensification decisions in forest-based shifting cultivation (slash-and-burn) agroecosystems. The main results from the analysis generally coincide with the Population Pressure Hypothesis (PPH) as an important driver of soil degradation due to the so-called fallow crisis or deprived land-use intensification in shifting cultivation. However, the model also shows, from a supply perspective, that such a vicious circle of lower yields and greater forest land clearing may be avoided when the production elasticity of on-farm labor outweighs the elasticity of substitution between farm, labor and soil fertility. Furthermore, using data from shifting cultivating households from Yucatan, Mexico, we calibrate the effect of changes in population density. The numerical analysis suggest that by contrast to better-off households, when population density increases, poorer shifting cultivating households' optimal labor allocation strategy is to further extensify land use by clearing more forest in the village common property land, or ejido land.
Keywords: Population pressure, Fallow crisis, Soil degradation, Shifting cultivation, Rebound effect, Mexico
JEL Classification: D1, I3, Q1, Q2
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