Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Soybeans, Poverty and Inequality in the Brazilian Amazon

Weinhold, Diana and Killick, Evan and Reis, Eustaquio Jose (2011): Soybeans, Poverty and Inequality in the Brazilian Amazon.

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Abstract

The recent growth of soybean cultivation in the Brazilian Amazon has been unprecedented, even as the debate continues over its economic and environmental consequences. Based on contemporary datasets as well as our own field studies, this paper examines the social and economic costs and benefits of increases in soybean production for local populations. After presenting some background information on the rise of soybean cultivation in Brazil we examine the relationship between increases in soybean production and local economic indicators. We find that increased soy production raises median rural incomes and may reduce poverty. However, we also note that this increase is associated with increased measures of inequality, and we consider the wider political and social consequences of this connection in our qualitative fieldwork. The mixed-method approach helps shed light not only economic effects of soy cultivation but also on the more complex social and political context that is, arguably, even more policy-relevant.

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