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Remittances and Natural Resource Extraction: Evidence from Mexico

Alejandro Lopez-Feldman () and Estefanía Chávez

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 132, issue C, 69-79

Abstract: While much attention has been given to the effects of migration and remittances on agricultural activities in the communities of origin, the relationship between remittances and rural households' use of natural resources remains understudied. This paper contributes in filling this gap by using a Mexican data set that contains detailed information on both remittances and use of natural resources at the household level. The data set is representative of the rural population of Mexico at the national level, which allows us to move beyond case studies overcoming one of the main challenges for understanding the relationship between livelihoods and the environment. Results show that remittances have significant effects on the use of natural resources by the receiving households. We find that a) remittances decrease the likelihood that a household will participate in natural resource extraction, and b) households that receive remittances and extract natural resources have lower environmental income and lower environmental reliance than households not receiving remittances. By reducing participation in extraction as well as reliance on natural resources, remittances reduce the pressure that local populations put on the natural resource base that surrounds them. This could mean good news for the conservation of natural resources. However, it also shows the vulnerability of Mexico's natural resource to periods of low or negative economic growth in the United States inasmuch as they affect the amount of remittances that migrants send back home.

Keywords: Environmental income; Environmental reliance; Mexico; Natural resources; Remittances (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:132:y:2017:i:c:p:69-79