Agriculture, Land Tenure and International Migration in Rural Guatemala

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Remittances, Coffee, Palm oil, Land‐use change

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College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Geography and the Environment


In this paper, we ask what the effects of migration and remittances are on land tenure, agriculture and forests, based on empirical evidence from four rural communities in Guatemala. Our results suggest that remittances improve migrant families' access to agricultural land which – depending on the context – fosters more equitable local land distribution patterns or land concentration by migrant families. Changes in the political economy of the country also combine to stimulate these patterns, while remittances contribute to secure land rights held by migrant households. But even though migrant households are acquiring more land, the trend does not change the traditional pattern of land distribution in the country. Regarding forests, significant changes were not observed in two of the communities, while in one we observed forest decline and in the last, forest recovery. A trend away from reliance on the land for survival results in forest recovery.

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