Environmental Scarcity, Resource Collection, and the Demand for Children in Nepal

Published in: Working paper No. 19. The Poverty, Environment and Growth Working Paper Series (Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, July 30, 1997), 46 p

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 1995

by David S Loughran, Lant Pritchett

The interaction of population and environmental quality is of great interest to policy makers worldwide. While many studies emphasize the effect of population growth on environmental quality, few examine how environmental quality affects population growth. This paper uses recently collected cross-sectional data from Nepal to test whether variation in firewood and water scarcity affects the demand for children by altering the relative value of children in resource collection activities. Our results indicate increasing environmental scarcity lowers the demand for children implying Nepalese households perceive resource scarcity as increasing the net cost of children. Apparently increasing firewood and water scarcity apparently does not have a strong enough effect on the relative productivity of child labor to induce higher demand for children given the effects that work in the opposite direction. For these resource collection activities it would appear environmental scarcity acts as a check on population growth.

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