Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assessing the Impacts of Global Amenity Migration on Land Use, Livelihoods, and Communal Identities

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project examines the impacts of amenity migration from high income regions in the Global North to middle and lower income regions in the Global South. As property prices increase in high amenity destinations in North America and Europe, a growing number of U.S., Canadian, and European citizens have sought to buy residential property globally, allowing them relatively low-cost access to tropical climates, beaches, and other lifestyle-oriented amenities. Often this migration and its associated residential development has been heralded as bringing economic development to poor rural communities, yet the specific impacts of these flows on local residents' land ownership and use, housing access, and means of making a living are not well understood. Scholars have begun to document how global amenity migration increases inequality and social fragmentation in communities, but little is known about the effects of such migration on local land use, livelihoods, and housing, nor how these changes are experienced by racial minority groups who have historically experienced social and economic marginalization. This project will address these gaps and create knowledge useful for constructing local, national, and international policies to mitigate some of the potentially negative impacts of growing global amenity migration on amenity destination communities. Further, the project will train two undergraduate research assistants and provide support to enable a graduate student to establish an independent research career.

This project seeks to demonstrate how amenity-oriented migration from high income regions in North America impacts ownership and use of land, the means of making a living, and access to housing across race, class, gender, and nationality in receiving communities. By analyzing these impacts in a predominantly Afro-descendant community on Costa Rica's Caribbean coastline, this research advances the study of amenity migration beyond its classic U.S.- and European-based contexts toward a more careful examination of how race, alongside class, shapes the experiences of residents in amenity destinations. The project employs mixed-methods research, including geospatial analysis of satellite imagery to establish broad patterns of land use change in the study area; analysis of land sale records to indicate ownership patterns and property subdivision rates; and a survey of past and present land-owning households to demonstrate patterns of land ownership, housing access, and means of making a living for groups across race, class, gender, and nationality. Finally, semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observation will provide insight into individual and communal experiences of land use, livelihood, and identity changes in the community. Through community round table discussions, the project will broaden local community representation within amenity development projects and local and national planning efforts.

Effective start/end date8/15/179/30/19


  • National Science Foundation: $14,400.00


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