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Land use as a mediating factor of fertility in the Amazon

Abstract

Despite implications for both humans and the environment, a scant body of research examines fertility in forest frontiers. This study examines the fertility–environment association using empirical data from Ecuadorian Amazon between 1980 and 1999. Fertility dramatically declined during this period, and our empirical models suggest that households’ relationship to land partially explains this decline. Controlling for known fertility determinants such as age and education, women in households lacking land titles experienced a 27 % higher birth rate than did women in households with land titles. This suggests insecure land tenure was associated with higher fertility. Furthermore, each additional hectare of new pasture was associated with a 16 % higher birth rate, suggesting the potential role of a more stable and lucrative income source in supporting additional births. Findings from this research can help inform strategic policies to address sustainable development in frontier environments.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. This period also reported a similarly slow decline in child mortality, from 82 deaths per 1000 in 1987 to 39 in 2000 and 35 in 2004 as reported in Pan et al. (2010) and Ishida et al. (2009). The slower declines in fertility and child mortality coincided with the economic crisis in Ecuador during the late 1990s that resulted in dollarization of the economy.

  2. From Fig. 3a, we take the difference in the difference in 3-year forest change (CFOR3 = Current forest cover–Forest cover 3 years ago) for WCBA on farms with a birth versus WCBA on farms not reporting a birth; therefore, positive values represent more forest gained (or clear less forest) on farms where WCBA report a birth than farms that do not report a birth. Similarly, differences in the difference in future change (FC_FOR3 = Current forest cover–Forest cover in 3 years) values are positive when more forest is cleared (or less gained) among farms whose WCBA report a birth versus those that do not report a birth.

    Differences in the difference in past 3-year pasture change (CPST3 = current pasture–pasture 3 years ago) are positive when more pasture is created (or less lost) for farms whose WBCA report a birth versus those that do not. Differences in the difference in future 3-year pasture change (FC_PST3 = current pasture–pasture 3 years from now) are positive when farms with WCBA reporting a birth gain less pasture (or remove pasture as a land use) than farms with WCBA not reporting a birth.

    Differences in the difference in past 3-year agricultural change (CAGR3 = current agriculture–Agriculture 3 years ago) are interpreted similarly as pasture.

  3. This approach requires fitting three equations, two of which were already fit using the approach described. The other model consists of the marital status being regressed on the title holding or pasture creation. Results of these models are not shown.

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Pan, W.K., López-Carr, D. Land use as a mediating factor of fertility in the Amazon. Popul Environ 38, 21–46 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-016-0253-z

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Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Environment
  • Land tenure
  • Amazon
  • Land use
  • Human–environment
  • Ecuador