Reciprocal Relations Between Population and Environment

We propose to continue a unique micro-level study of the reciprocal relationships between population and the environment. Environmental measures feature direct observation measurement (with tape measures) of land use in 151 neighborhoods and detailed counts (by hand) of vegetation abundance and diversity from 126 plots surrounding those neighborhoods. Both land use and vegetation data have been collected three times over a ten year period (1996, 2000, and 2006). The population measures feature monthly records of births, deaths, marriages, in-migration, and out-migration for every individual living in those neighborhoods from 1996 through 2006. Additional data from the same sample include neighborhood histories of contextual change, individual life histories, and household-level measures of agricultural practices and consumption of natural resources (collected in 1996, 2001, and 2006).

Analyses of these data have revealed a series of crucial insights into the overall reciprocal relationships between population and the environment. These insights have shaped a new theoretical framework – a distinctly sociological approach to population and environment research that emphasizes the role of local community context in shaping key population parameters, vegetation, and land use/cover, as well as the role of attitudes and beliefs and consumption behaviors in shaping environmental consequences. The key evolution in our previous work has been a shift from focusing on the overall relationship between population and the environment to focusing on the mechanisms driving that relationship. Our proposed research will analyze newly available longitudinal measures of change in environment, consumption, and population to answer five specific questions about the micro-level dynamic relationships between population and environment over time, focusing on the role of attitudes and beliefs and the role of consumption behaviors as important intervening mechanisms.

Investigators: Willilam Axinn and Dirgha Ghimire

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