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William G. Axinn photo

Social Organization, Population, and Land Use

Publication Abstract

Axinn, William G., and Dirgha J. Ghimire. 2011. "Social Organization, Population, and Land Use." American Journal of Sociology, 117(1): 209-258.

We examine the population-environment relationship at the local community level by focusing on the impact of population changes on changes in land use. We construct a theoretical framework for the study of microlevel population-environment relationships that guides the appropriate specification of empirical models and emphasizes the multidimensional nature of population impacts on land use. We use newly available longitudinal measures of local land use changes, local population dynamics, and community context from the Nepalese Himalayas to provide empirical estimates of our theoretical model. This empirical investigation reveals that variations in model specification yield different substantive conclusions and that multiple dimensions of population change impact land use. Local birth rates have a large effect on local land use changes that is not explained by changes in population size or structure. This intriguing finding is consistent with the hypothesis that fertility influences household consumption patterns which in turn impact land use changes at the local level.

DOI:10.1086/661072 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3162250. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: Nepal.

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