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Demography, Development and Deforestation in a World-System Perspective

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
For more content, see Comparative Sociology.

Deforestation is a critical global phenomenon that has been relatively neglected in sociological research. We addres this neglect by examining the antecedents of deforestation from a demographic, cultural and economic perspective that relies on world-system themes. We develop a model for deforestation and its short-term economic effects for the entire world, and also develop separate models for the core, semiperiphery and periphery. We use structural equation models to identify both direct and indirect effects on deforestation, as mediated by rural encroachment. Results indicate that factors leading to deforestation vary across world-system positions. Deforestation has been most severe in the semiperiphery during the past several decades, and the effects of rural encroachment on deforestation have been greatest there as well. Growth in secondary education is associated with less deforestation in the semiperiphery, both directly and indirectly through its tendency to counteract rural encroachment. Population growth has a direct effect on deforestation only in the core, but leads to rural encroachment in all sectors. Growth in service and manufacturing, especially in the periphery, has a countervailing effect on deforestation. Deforestation in turn is associated with economic decline, especially in the periphery. Results are discussed in a world-system theoretic perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, U.S.A.


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