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What Drives Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon? Evidence from Satellite and Socioeconomic Data

Talikoff, Alexander Strickland Pfaff

This paper analyzes the determinants of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. From a model of optimal land 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 allowing within-country analysis. Evidence exists that: most important for policy, both increased road density in neighbouring counties lead to more deforestation; government development projects increase deforestation; greater distance from the economic center of the country leads to less deforestation; and better soil quality leads to more deforestation. The evidence on provision of subsidized credit is mixed. Addressing an oft-mentioned factor, the population density is significant when population is the sole explanatory variable, but not when other variables suggested by the model are included. A quadratic population specification yields a more robust (although still small), concave effect, suggesting the importance of the spatial distribution of population.



More About This Work

Academic Units
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 9596-27
Published Here
March 3, 2011


June 1996