This paper uses household data concerning collection of firewood to analyze the role of inequality in the process of deforestation in Nepal. We propose here an indirect methodology aiming at highlighting its effects on village level firewood collection. The results obtained provide some support for the impact of collective action on firewood collection. Thus, social fragmentation tends to increase collections, most likely because of its damaging impact on collective action and norms at the village level. The impact of the other measures of inequality is either negligible, or cannot be primarily attributed to the collective action channel. It seems more likely that the effects observed are the result of aggregating individual household behaviours. The impact of inequality, either through collective action or aggregation effects, remains small however: thus if one considers a situation in which standards of living are equalized within each village, such a change would increase collection by only 14%. These effects are much less important than those associated with different aspects or growth and modernization, such as changes in population, living standards and education. In particular, rising consumption and population levels tend to raise firewood collections by a substantial amount, with an aggregate elasticity close to unity. The counteracting role of primary education seems extremely promising here, as it raises the implicit cost of collecting firewood by offering better educated household members more lucrative occupations.
|Title of host publication||Environment, Inequalities and Collective Action|
|Editors||Marcello Basili, Maurizio Franzini, Alessro Vercelli|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2007|