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Social capital is subordinate to natural capital in buffering rural livelihoods from negative shocks: Insights from rural South Africa
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health. MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; INDEPTH Network, Ghana.
2019 (English)In: Journal of Rural Studies, ISSN 0743-0167, E-ISSN 1873-1392, Vol. 65, p. 12-21Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Rural livelihoods in developing countries are disproportionately vulnerable to multiple shocks and stresses that exacerbate vulnerability, which can result in increased dependence on natural resources. Several studies have been conducted on the safety net role of natural resources, which lower the impact of negative shocks on rural livelihoods. However, the role of social capital as a safety net that can potentially lower natural resource use when households experience negative shocks has been less studied. We examined the role of natural resources and social capital as buffers against negative shocks to reduce vulnerability in rural livelihoods. Using five years of panel data from a rural population in South Africa, multilevel models were constructed to quantify the influence of shocks, social capital and household socio-demographic characterization on three dimensions of natural resource use, namely the number of types of natural resources used, the frequency of natural resource use, and the quantities of natural resources used. Results show that household experience of negative shocks was consistently associated with a significant increase in all dimensions of natural resource use. However, and unexpectedly, social capital did not significantly reduce natural resource use when households experienced shocks. This in no way discounts the role social capital plays in cushioning households post experience of shocks, but rather indicates that reliance on social and natural capital could be complementary rather than substitutable coping strategies post experience of shocks. Efforts to secure rural livelihoods and achieve sustainability should thus focus on building household physical capital to reduce dependency on natural resources in rural households.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2019. Vol. 65, p. 12-21
Keywords [en]
Negative shocks, Natural resource use, Social capital, Vulnerability, Mixed effects models, South Africa
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-157228DOI: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.12.012ISI: 000459519200002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-157228DiVA, id: diva2:1297655
Available from: 2019-03-20 Created: 2019-03-20 Last updated: 2019-03-20Bibliographically approved

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Collinson, Mark

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