The debate on the land–poverty nexus is inconclusive, with past research unable to identify the causal dynamics. We use a unique global panel dataset that links survey and census derived poverty data with measures of land ecosystems at the subnational level. Rainfall is used to overcome the endogeneity in the land–poverty relationship in an instrumental variable approach. This is the first global study using quasi-experimental methods to uncover the degree to which land improvements matter for poverty reduction. We draw three main conclusions. First, land improvements are important for poverty reduction in rural areas and particularly so for Sub-Saharan Africa. Second, land improvements are pro-poor: poorer areas see larger poverty alleviation effects due to improvements in land. Finally, irrigation plays a major role in breaking the link between bad weather and negative impacts on the poor through reduced vegetation growth and soil fertility.

Heger, M., Zens, G., & Bangalore, M. (2020). Land and poverty: The role of soil fertility and vegetation quality in poverty reduction. Environment and Development Economics, 25(4), 315-333. doi:10.1017/S1355770X20000066

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