Committee ChairInnes, Robert
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe studies in this dissertation present empirical analyses of the relationship between environmental change and two important aspects of the development process - population growth and poverty. The studies have been conducted using cross-section district level data from South, West and Central India during the decade of 1990's. The use of satellite image based vegetation indices to represent environmental quality enabled accurate and reliable assessment of change in vegetation 'quality' that traditional measures like area under forests lack. The first chapter analyzes the relationship between population growth and vegetation change. It is the first study to account for the endogeneity in the relationship between population growth and environmental change in a literature that has predominantly focused on unidirectional impact of population growth on deforestation. This is also the first study to distinguish between rural and urban population growth as well as natural population growth and migration in a unified framework. The second chapter analyzes the impact of rural poverty on vegetation change while the third chapter looks at the other direction of the relationship i.e. the effect of vegetation change on rural poverty change. These two are the pioneering studies to account for the endogeneity in the relationship between rural poverty and environmental change. These studies not only shed light on the environmentally sustainable development challenges facing the developing world, they also provide ground for further investigation into the role of institutional setups in shaping these relationships.