Circular migration, small-scale logging, and household livelihoods in Uganda

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Little is known about the contribution of migrant logging to rural livelihoods in East Africa. In this paper, we analyze logging by circular migrants in land constrained and population dense southwestern Uganda. Drawing on a sample of 180 households, including both migrant and non-migrant households, we describe the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of migrant loggers, estimate the contribution of migrant logging to household income portfolios, test several hypotheses regarding why households decide to undertake this relatively risky activity, and explore the role of social networks as a determinant of higher incomes for migrant loggers. We find that household endowments of land, labor, and capital are different for migrant logger and comparison group households. Above all, labor endowments appear to be driving decisions to participate in logging. We find support for two migration hypotheses: higher expected incomes and wages at destination; and relative deprivation at origin. We find strong evidence that migrant logging reduces income inequality in the home community.

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