Out-migration and rural livelihoods in the southern Ecuadorian Andes Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Gray, Clark Langston
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • This work draws on approaches from migration studies and population-environment research to investigate the drivers and consequences of rural out-migration in the southern Ecuadorian Andes, with a focus on connections to agriculture, the environment, and gender. Rural out-migration represents one of the primary forms of human population redistribution over the past century and is an important form of livelihood diversification for many rural households in the developing world. Out-migration commonly occurs in a context of land scarcity or environmental degradation and agricultural production may be further undermined by the loss of household labor to migration, but few quantitative studies have investigated these connections. To address these issues I conducted a household survey in a probability sample of 36 rural communities in southern Loja Province, Ecuador. The survey collected life histories for migrants and non-migrants as well as cross-sectional and retrospective information on household assets and livelihood activities. The household survey was supplemented by a community-level survey and the construction of a geographic information system that provided contextual information. To investigate the effects of agrarian and environmental contexts on out-migration I use these data to estimate a multinomial event history model of out-migration to local, rural, urban and international destinations. The results indicate that access to land decreases migration to urban areas but increases migration to rural and international destinations, particularly for men. Also, positive stable characteristics of the environment (e.g., flat topography) and characteristics that indicate environmental variation (e.g., soil erosion) both tend to increase migration. To investigate the consequences of out-migration and remittances for rural livelihoods I estimate a series of tobit and Poisson models of participation in various agricultural activities and changes in assets over time. The results reveal that migration and remittances have countervailing effects on agriculture, with primarily positive effects on market-oriented activities. Together, the findings challenge several prevailing assumptions from the literature on migration, development, and the environment and also highlight the utility of quantitative methods for the investigation of rural livelihoods.
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  • In Copyright
  • Whitmore, Thomas M.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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