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Population and development in the Amazon: A longitudinal study of migrant settlers in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon

Población y desarrollo en la Amazonia: Un estudio longitudinal de colonos migrantes en la Amazonía norte del Ecuador


This paper examines changes over time for a full generation of migrant settlers in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon (NEA). Data were collected from a 2014 household survey covering a subsample of households surveyed previously in 1990 and 1999. We observed changes in demographic behavior, land use, forest cover, and living conditions. As the frontier develops, human fertility is continuing to decline with contraceptive prevalence rising. Meanwhile, out-migration from colonist households, largely to destinations within the region, persists. More households have secure land tenure than in 1999, and are better off as measured by possession of assets. There is continued growth in pasture, largely at the expense of forest. Farms still serve as an important livelihood source for families, though growing cities in the NEA are creating more non-agricultural economic opportunities. Our findings provide a snapshot of demographic, economic, land use, and livelihood changes occurring in the NEA during the past quarter century, providing useful information for policymakers seeking to balance economic and environmental goals in order to promote sustainable development as well as protect biodiversity.

family planning; deforestation; livelihoods; migration

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