Settler welfare on tropical forest frontiers in Latin America: a review and synthesis of select recent research

Catherine M. Marquette, Centro Centroamericano de Población Universidad de Costa Rica

Because of urgent efforts to protect tropical forests in Latin America, social science research on them has been ‘forest-centered,’ considering frontier settlers primarily as agents of forest conversion. Welfare indicators on settlers (income, education, health, access to basic services) are addressed only incidentally in terms of how they influence land use. ‘People’ centered research, asking questions such as, ‘Are frontier settlers better off than they were before?’ or ‘What kind of socio-economic impacts does frontier life have on the people who live there?” is less common. As a result, we know much about the impacts, especially adverse impacts, which settler activity on the frontier has on forest cover but little about the impacts settlement has on settlers, themselves. This paper reviews existing studies on tropical forest frontiers in Latin America, which shed light on the welfare of settlers in terms of income, health, education and women’s status.

  See paper

Presented in Session 102: The demography of the frontier