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Journal Article: Poverty and Resource Dependence in Rural India. In: Ecological Economics

Author(s)Narain, U., Gupta, S. and van ‘t Veld, K.
Serie(s)Journal Articles


Previous studies of rural households in developing countries have tended to find that the dependence of these households on common-pool resources declines with income. Our study of households in Jhabua, India, finds a more complex relationship. Using the share of resource income in total long-run or “permanent” income as our dependence measure—which we argue is more appropriate than the short-run income-based measure commonly used in the literature—we find that for households that collect any resources at all, dependence exhibits a U-shaped relationship with income. That is, the poorest and richest households depend more on resources than households with intermediate incomes. The poorest and richest households are also found to be least likely to collect, however, indicating that resource use at the income extremes is bimodal—either zero or above average. Moreover, the observed trends for resources as a whole are not mirrored in those for individual resources. Dependence on fuelwood and dung declines with income, for example, while dependence on fodder and construction wood increases. These findings suggest that common-pool resources are a productive source of income not just for the poor but also for the rich, and that improvements in the stocks of these resources can potentially form the basis of poverty reduction efforts in these economies.


Ecological Economics


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