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Poverty, Population, and the Environment

Mink, S.D.
February 1993

The continued prevalence of poverty throughout the world keeps its alleviation as a central objective of economic development. Strategies for reducing poverty have begun to pay more attention to the relationship between environmental degradation and poverty. This two-way relationship is a significant one. Environmental degradation contributes to poverty through worsened health and by constraining the productivity of those resources upon which the poor rely, and poverty restricts the poor to act in ways that are damaging to the environment. In addition, demographic factors can be involved in complex ways; high growth rates are associated with poverty, and directly exacerbate problems of environmental degradation. This paper will address several of the links among poverty, population, and the environment. It first addresses the impact of environmental degradation on the poor ' s health and productivity. Next, it analyzes the proposition that the poor have short horizons, the circumstances that contribute to this, and the consequences for the environment. The impact of population dynamics on the environment is considered in terms of three dimensions: scale, rate of growth, and migration. The final section turns to the broad policy implications of the preceding discussion.

Publication type: 
Source name: 
World Bank Discussion Papers
Page numbers: 
40 pp.
World Bank, Washington, D.C.
Poverty-Environment Linkages