Poverty and the Environment: Exploring the Relationship Between Household Incomes, Private Assets, and Natural Assets

Urvashi Narain, Shreekant Gupta and Klaas van ’t Veld


This paper develops an analytical framework to examine how rural households in developing countries derive income from common-pool natural resource stocks. The focus is on how three types of private assets—land, livestock, and human capital—and one household characteristic—its size—interact with the natural assets to form the basis of household livelihood strategies. Predictions of the model are tested using purpose-collected data from rural households in Jhabua, India. Implications of our results for the potential of improved natural resource management to alleviate poverty are discussed. (JEL Q12, Q21)