Deprived Land-Use Intensification in Shifting Cultivation: The Population Pressure Hypothesis Revisited

Agricultural Economics, Vol. 34, pp. 155-165, 2006

Posted: 8 Jun 2006

See all articles by Edward B. Barbier

Edward B. Barbier

Colorado State University, Fort Collins - Department of Economics

Unai Pascual

University of Cambridge - Department of Land Economy

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Barbier, Edward B. and Pascual, Unai, Deprived Land-Use Intensification in Shifting Cultivation: The Population Pressure Hypothesis Revisited. Agricultural Economics, Vol. 34, pp. 155-165, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=906857

Edward B. Barbier (Contact Author)

Colorado State University, Fort Collins - Department of Economics ( email )

Fort Collins, CO 80523-1771
United States

Unai Pascual

University of Cambridge - Department of Land Economy ( email )

19 Silver Street
Cambridge, CB3 9EP
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.landecon.cam.ac.uk/staff/pascual.htm

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