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Circular migration, small-scale logging, and household livelihoods in Uganda

Abstract

Little is known about the contribution of migrant logging to rural livelihoods in East Africa. In this paper, we analyze logging by circular migrants in land constrained and population dense southwestern Uganda. Drawing on a sample of 180 households, including both migrant and non-migrant households, we describe the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of migrant loggers, estimate the contribution of migrant logging to household income portfolios, test several hypotheses regarding why households decide to undertake this relatively risky activity, and explore the role of social networks as a determinant of higher incomes for migrant loggers. We find that household endowments of land, labor, and capital are different for migrant logger and comparison group households. Above all, labor endowments appear to be driving decisions to participate in logging. We find support for two migration hypotheses: higher expected incomes and wages at destination; and relative deprivation at origin. We find strong evidence that migrant logging reduces income inequality in the home community.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The mailo tenure system was established by the British colonial government in 1900. Legal land titles were given to the Buganda royal family. The land was measured in square miles which is where the term mailo comes from. Land was partitioned into smaller units that were rented out to tenants. Under the 1998 Land Act tenants were granted freehold status for mailo parcels held since 1986. While the 1998 Land Act clearly outlines the provisions of various tenure systems and land rights, the Act is weakly enforced (Nkonya et al. 2004).

  2. 2.

    Households reported up to three reasons for not participating in migrant logging.

  3. 3.

    These regression results are not reported here but are available upon request. The regressions used to predict crop, livestock and other income used indicators of land, labor and capital as well as village-level dummy variables. The regression to predict income from migrant logging included a vector of variables that characterize the household labor endowment and village-level dummy variables; land and working capital were omitted from this regression. We ran the migrant logger income model using the full set of covariates and found similar estimates for predicted migrant labor income for both groups. Prior to implementing the regressions we undertook a range of diagnostic tests related to heteroskedasticity, variance inflation, and non-linearity, and based on the results from these tests implemented all regressions using ordinary least squares.

  4. 4.

    Daily wage rates for agricultural labor range from 1,800 UgShs/day to 2,500 Ug/Shs/day in Kabale District depending on the activity undertaken and the season.

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Acknowledgments

This research was made possible, in part, through support provided by the Bureau of Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade, U.S. Agency for International Development through the BASIS Assets and Market Access Collaborative Research Support Program. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency. We have benefitted from discussions with workshop participants at Makerere University and at the Center for International Forestry Research. We are also grateful for feedback provided at the 2011 Population Association of America Annual Conference. This research was reviewed by the Human Research Protection program at Purdue University (lead institution) and met with ethics requirements in Uganda. All researchers and enumerators involved in the project received short-course training in research ethics.

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Correspondence to Pamela Jagger.

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Jagger, P., Shively, G. & Arinaitwe, A. Circular migration, small-scale logging, and household livelihoods in Uganda. Popul Environ 34, 235–256 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-011-0155-z

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Keywords

  • Circular migration
  • Environment
  • Forestry
  • Informal sector
  • Livelihoods
  • Logging
  • Uganda