Population and Environment

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 44–68 | Cite as

Out-migration and land-use change in agricultural frontiers: insights from Altamira settlement project

Original Paper


One of Daniel Hogan’s lasting impacts on international demography community comes through his advocacy for studying bidirectional relationships between environment and demography, particularly migration. We build on his holistic approach to mobility and examine dynamic changes in land use and migration among small farm families in Altamira, Pará, Brazil. We find that prior area in either pasture or perennials promotes out-migration of adult children, but that out-migration is not directly associated with land-use change. In contrast to early formulations of household life cycle models that argued that aging parents would decrease productive land use as children left the farm, we find no effect of out-migration of adult children on land-use change. Instead, remittances facilitate increases in area in perennials, a slower to pay off investment that requires scarce capital, but in pasture. While remittances are rare, they appear to permit sound investments in the rural milieu and thus to slow rural exodus and the potential consolidation of land into large holdings. We would do well to promote the conditions that allow them to be sent and to be used productively to keep families on the land to avoid the specter of extensive deforestation for pasture followed by land consolidation.


Migration Remittances Brazilian Amazon Credit constraint Agricultural investment Land use LUCC 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Change InitiativeBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental ChangeIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  4. 4.Interdisciplinary Center for Territorial StudiesUniversidade Vale do Rio DoceGovernador ValadaresBrazil
  5. 5.School of Applied Sciences (FCA)State University of Campinas (Unicamp)LimeiraBrazil
  6. 6.Population Studies Center (NEPO)University of Campinas (Unicamp)CampinasBrazil

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