Family planning and deforestation: evidence from the Ecuadorian Amazon
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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.