Deforestation and credit cycles in Latin American countries

Abstract : This paper establishes a link between deforestation and credit cycles in Latin American countries. The latter exhibit rapid deforestation rates as well as macroeconomic instability that is often rooted in credit booms and crunches episodes: data available on the last years show a coincidence between higher macroeconomic instability and deforestation increases. This paper provides a theoretical explanation and econometric investigations of this phenomenon. A key ingredient of the model is the existence of two sectors: a modern agricultural sector and a subsistence one, which are hypothesised to catch the basic features of Latin American agricultural sectors. Agricultural production relies on three production factors: land, capital and labour. Agents clear forested areas in order to increase agricultural lands. Interest rates movements have an effect on agricultural decisions and thus on deforestation since they induce factor movements between the agricultural sectors. It is shown that deforestation occurs in response to interest rates increases or decreases primarily because of the irreversible character of forest conversion. Econometric tests are conducted on the 1948-2005 period on an exhaustive sample of Latin American countries. The database on deforestation is a compilation of FAO censuses and several measures of credit cycles are calculated as well. The main output of the paper is to evidence a link between credit cycles and deforestation. The results are robust to the introduction of usual control variables in deforestation equations.
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Jean-Louis Combes, Samuel Guerineau, Pascale Combes Motel. Deforestation and credit cycles in Latin American countries. 2011. ⟨halshs-00556809⟩

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