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Wilderness Conservation and the Reach of the State: Evidence from National Borders in the Amazon

Robin Burgess, Francisco J.M. Costa, Benjamin A. Olken

NBER Working Paper No. 24861
Issued in July 2018
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Environment and Energy Economics

Preserving wilderness ecosystems in developing countries is challenging because their remote location places them far from state control. We investigate this using 30x30 meter satellite data to determine how Amazonian deforestation changes discretely at the Brazilian international border. In 2000, Brazilian pixels were 30 percent more likely to be deforested, and between 2001 and 2005 annual Brazilian deforestation was more than 3 times the rate observed across the border. In 2006, just after Brazil introduces policies to reduce illegal deforestation, these differences disappear. These results demonstrate the power of the state to affect whether wilderness ecosystems are conserved or exploited.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24861

 
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