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This paper aims to estimate an Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) for the current Brazilian agricultural frontier, located in the region known as MATOPIBA. The question to be answered can be summarized as: how does human development affect the region’s environment, captured by deforestation? Specifically, we analyzed the presence of spatial dependence and heterogeneity, as well as the existence of clusters between the 337 municipalities of MATOPIBA in 2010, using exploratory spatial data analysis (ESDA) and spatial econometrics. We identified the presence of spatial dependence for deforestation, which led to the incorporation of this effect into the econometric modeling, which resulted in the SLX as the best spatial model. In addition, we got an inverted-U shape for the EKC; thus, deforestation increases until a certain threshold, as the region develops, from which it begins to fall. The “turning point”, where development reaches its maximum impact on the environment, is a Human Development Index of 0.57 and 28.18% of the municipalities are below this value, which highlights environmental concerns, since their development could boost degradation. To worsen this scenario, we identified many variables, especially related to the agricultural frontier expansion, which induces deforestation in MATOPIBA.
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