This paper reviews 91 recent empirical and theoretical studies that analyzed land-use change at the farm-household level. The review builds on a conceptual framework of land-use change drivers and conducts a meta-analysis. Results show that the conversion of forests into cultivated land or grassland, mainly used for agriculture or ranching, are most frequently analyzed. Only a small number of studies consider the transition of wetlands for agriculture and few cases deal with the conversion from agriculture into protected zones. Moreover, interactions between drivers add to the complexity of land-use change processes. These interrelationships are conditioned by institutions and policies. In particular, the market-oriented reforms adopted by many developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s seem to have had an important role in altering land use, while impacts of more recent policies need to be better explored. Many studies rely on small samples and face problems of internal validity. Despite these weaknesses, the literature points at micro-level economic growth, for example in income and capital endowments, as a strong catalyst of human induced land-use change. However, the review suggests that—across the different studies and cases—there is considerable heterogeneity in the relationship between these factors and land-use change.
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