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The Land Use Consequences of Rural to Urban Migration

New research released in AJAE

New research finds that rural out-migration reduces cultivated land which translates into reduced deforestation at the aggregate level. In response to a 10% increase in household migration, researchers estimate that a farming household reduces the amount of cultivated area by 0.6% and plants 1 less crop on their farm.

In the new article “The Land Use Consequences of Rural to Urban Migration” released in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Julia Brewer and Frederik Noack from the University of British Columbia, Ashley Larsen from the University of California, Santa Barbara, what the impact of rural-to-urban migration ad the associatied rural labor loss and the inflow remittances.

Noack says, “In our district-level analysis, we find evidence for a reduction in tree cover loss with rural outmigration. Specifically, we find that a 10% increase in outmigration reduces the annual rate of tree cover loss by 0.6%. Given the current baseline rate, this suggests that a 10% increase in the district migration rate could reverse tree cover loss at the district level. This result suggests that the induced agricultural contraction that we find at the household level may have positive environmental implications.”

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ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes three journals, the Journal of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (an open access journal), the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Ware
Senior Communications & Membership Manager
(414) 918-3190