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Sustainable agricultural intensification or Jevons paradox? The role of public governance in tropical South America

Ceddia, M.G., Sedlacek, S., Bardsley, N.O. and Gomez-y-Paloma, S. (2013) Sustainable agricultural intensification or Jevons paradox? The role of public governance in tropical South America. Global Environmental Change, 23 (5). pp. 1052-1063. ISSN 0959-3780

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.07.005


The process of global deforestation calls for urgent attention, particularly in South America where deforestation rates have failed to decline over the past 20 years. The main direct cause of deforestation is land conversion to agriculture. We combine data from the FAO and the World Bank for six tropical Southern American countries over the period 1970–2006, estimate a panel data model accounting for various determinants of agricultural land expansion and derive elasticities to quantify the effect of the different independent variables. We investigate whether agricultural intensification, in conjunction with governance factors, has been promoting agricultural expansion, leading to a ‘‘Jevons paradox’’. The paradox occurs if an increase in the productivity of one factor (here agricultural land) leads to its increased, rather than decreased, utilization. We find that for high values of our governance indicators a Jevons paradox exists even for moderate levels of agricultural productivity, leading to an overall expansion of agricultural area. Agricultural expansion is also positively related to the level of service on external debt and population growth, while its association with agricultural exports is only moderate. Finally, we find no evidence of an environmental Kuznets curve, as agricultural area is ultimately positively correlated to per-capita income levels.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Agri-Food Economics & Marketing
ID Code:33820
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agricultural intensification; Deforestation; Jevons paradox; Governance; Tropical South America

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