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Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 12807-12836; doi:10.3390/su70912807

Trans-Boundary Infrastructure and Changes in Rural Livelihood Diversity in the Southwestern Amazon: Resilience and Inequality

1
Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, 3219 Turlington Hall, University of Florida, P.O. Box 117330, Gainesville, FL 32611-7330, USA
2
Department of Anthropology, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
3
Departamento de Economia, Universidade Federal do Acre, Rio Branco, Acre 69920-900, Brasil
4
Facultad de Ecoturismo, Universidad Nacional Amazónica de Madre de Dios, Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios, Peru
5
Area de Ciencias Biológicas y Naturales, Universidad Amazónica de Pando, Cobija, Pando, Bolivia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Helmut Haberl
Received: 16 July 2015 / Revised: 9 September 2015 / Accepted: 11 September 2015 / Published: 18 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1272 KB, uploaded 18 September 2015]   |  

Abstract

Infrastructure has long been a priority in development policy, but there is debate over infrastructure impacts. Whereas economic studies show reductions in poverty, social research has documented growing income inequality. We suggest that a focus on livelihoods permits a bridge between the two literatures by highlighting decisions by households that may capture economic benefits but also yield social inequalities. We therefore take up two questions. First is whether new infrastructure allows households to diversify their livelihoods, where diversity begets resilience and thus affords livelihood sustainability. Second is whether households with more diverse livelihoods exhibit greater increases in livelihood diversity, which would widen livelihood inequalities. We take up the case of the Inter-Oceanic Highway, a trans-boundary infrastructure project in the southwestern Amazon. Findings from a rural household survey for the first question show a strong effect of accessibility on increasing livelihood diversity in areas receiving infrastructure upgrades, an indication that infrastructure fosters household resilience. However, results regarding the second question indicate that households with more diversified livelihoods also exhibit larger increments in diversity, which implies growing livelihood inequality. There remains a need to account for inequalities in livelihood diversity, since less diversified households benefit less from new infrastructure and remain more exposed to risks to their livelihoods. View Full-Text
Keywords: infrastructure; livelihood; resilience; sustainability; Amazon; Bolivia; Brazil; Peru infrastructure; livelihood; resilience; sustainability; Amazon; Bolivia; Brazil; Peru
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Perz, S.G.; Leite, F.L.; Griffin, L.N.; Hoelle, J.; Rosero, M.; Carvalho, L.A.; Castillo, J.; Rojas, D. Trans-Boundary Infrastructure and Changes in Rural Livelihood Diversity in the Southwestern Amazon: Resilience and Inequality. Sustainability 2015, 7, 12807-12836.

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