Population and Environment

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 424–447 | Cite as

Family planning and deforestation: evidence from the Ecuadorian Amazon

Original Paper


Despite an abundant literature exploring the relationship between population growth and forest cover change, comparatively little research has examined the forest cover impacts of family planning use—a key determinant of population growth rates in many developing countries. Using data from a panel survey of farms in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, this paper explores whether family planning use affects changes in forest cover. After controlling for household life cycle effects, family planning use among female heads of farm households did not have an independent effect on deforestation, reforestation, or net forest loss between 1990 and 2008. Rather, shorter-term drivers of forest change tend to be associated with household life cycles and shifts in production and consumption. However, family planning will continue to improve development and health outcomes for women by reducing unwanted fertility and may offer longer-term environmental benefits.


Family planning Deforestation Ecuador Fertility 



Clark Gray provided key insights and guidance that led to the development of this paper. Richard Bilsborrow and Pamela Jagger also provided feedback on a draft of this manuscript. Brian Frizzelle was instrumental in collecting and processing the farm boundary data that are used in this study. Funding for the Ecuador household surveys was provided by the World Wildlife Fund, the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Mellon Foundation. This research received support from the Population Research Training grant (T32 HD007168) and the Population Research Infrastructure Program (P2C HD050924) awarded to the Carolina Population Center from NIH/NIHCD.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology & Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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