Frederik Noack

Assistant Professor

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Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Reaping what we don't sow: the land use consequences of rural to urban migration (2021)

Rural-urban migration (RUM) is a key component of economic development, howeverits impacts on the environment are not well understood. To address this gap,this research estimates the impacts of RUM on land use in Uganda and exploresenvironmental implications. Uganda is a rapidly urbanizing nation, with current urbangrowth rates triple that of the global average. Agriculture occupies over 70% ofUganda’s land area and is a key contributor to deforestation and ecological degradation. Changesin Uganda’s rural land use therefore have widespread environmental implications.RUM is predicted to reduce agricultural labor supply and increase capital fromremittances. While labor scarcity may constrain expansion and induce a shift towardslabor-saving activities, remittances may relieve credit and risk constraints,inducing agricultural investment and riskier cropping decisions. Resulting landuse changes have direct implications for tree cover, crop diversity, and soil health.These predictions are tested empirically, using a combination of household datafrom the Living Standards Measurement Survey and spatially derived tree coverdata. To address endogeneity concerns, migration is modeled by interacting urbanincome shocks with household migration histories in a Bartik instrument approach.In support of the hypotheses, this work finds that among Ugandan smallholders,RUM decreases labor and increases remittances. This translates into meaningfulchanges in land use and environmental variables. While there is no observed shiftcrop choices, this work does find that RUM significantly reduces crop diversity. Inaddition to those results at the intensive margin, this work finds a reduction of cultivatedarea, which translates into reduced deforestation at the district level. Theseresults suggest that RUM leads to decline of agricultural extent, with associatedenvironmental benefits.

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