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Economic Causes and Consequences of Land Degradation and Desertification Risk in Southern Europe: Integrating Micro-Macro Approaches into a Geographical Perspective

Luca Salvati


This review contributes to the debate on economic growth, sustainable development, and the environment in southern Europe by addressing the role of several economic forces in exacerbating Land Degradation (LD), a process leading to desertification. Market, population growth, developmental policies, and other (minor) factors were classified through an unifying framework into immediate and underlying causes of LD. Higher agricultural prices, lower wages, and a shortage of off-farm employment were identified as potential, immediate causes of LD. By contrast, it was argued how technical change, agricultural input prices, and household income affect land vulnerability is poorly known. It was also pointed out that the role of macroeconomic factors such as population growth, poverty, and agricultural policies is important (but still ambiguous) and needs further studies. As a consequence of LD, inequality in natural capital availability, increasing rural poverty, and unsustainable management of soil and water were disentangled in time and space. New findings to be achieved in the context of policy responses aimed at mitigating LD and thus reducing desertification risk were finally delineated.


Land degradation, Desertification, economy, immediate causes, underlying factors, regional disparities, southern Europe

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