, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 159-186

Household demographic factors as life cycle determinants of land use in the Amazon

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Abstract

This paper seeks to broaden the application of demographyto environmental studies by complementing existing macro-level approaches, which feature aggregate populations, with a micro-level approach that highlights household life cycles. I take up the case of small farm households in the Brazilian Amazon to present a theoretical framework that identifies demographic characteristics which dispose families to engage in different forms of land use as household age structures change. Empirical models show that net of theeffects of farmer background, neighborhood context, institutional context, and off-farm incomes, demographic variables indicative of the household life cycle exert significant effects on the prominence of land uses with distinct environmental ramifications. The findings not only reveal micro-level demographic factors which affect Amazon land cover, they yield implications forfuture changes in rainforest landscapes in northern Brazil, and suggest household life cycle models as an avenue for further demographic research on environmental change in Latin America and other contexts.