Global patterns of materials use: A socioeconomic and geophysical analysis
Human use of materials is a major driver of global environmental change. The links between materials use and economic development are central to the challenge of decoupling of materials use and economic growth (dematerialization). This article presents a new global material flow dataset compiled for the year 2000, covering 175 countries, including both extraction and trade flows, and comprising four major material categories: biomass, construction minerals, fossil energy carriers and ores/industrial minerals. First, we quantify the variability and distributional inequality (Gini coefficients) in international material consumption. We then measure the influence of the drivers population, GDP, land area and climate. This analysis yields international income elasticities of material use. Finally, we examine the coupling between material flows, and between income and material productivity, measured in economic production per tonne material consumed. Material productivity is strongly coupled to income, and may thus not be suitable as an international indicator of environmental progress -- a finding which we relate to the economic inelasticity of material consumption. The results demonstrate striking differences between the material groups. Biomass is the most equitably distributed resource, economically the most inelastic, and is not correlated to any of the mineral materials. The three mineral material groups are closely coupled to each other and economic activity, indicating that the challenge of dematerializing industrial economies may require fundamental structural transformation. Our analysis provides a first systematic investigation of international differences in material use and their drivers, and thus serves as the basis for more detailed future work.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Weber, Christopher L. & Matthews, H. Scott, 2008. "Quantifying the global and distributional aspects of American household carbon footprint," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 379-391, June.
- Ana C Gonzalez-Martinez & Heinz Schandl, 2007.
"The Biophysical Perspective of a Middle Income Economy: Material Flows in Mexico,"
Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series
2007-10, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
- Gonzalez-Martinez, Ana Citlalic & Schandl, Heinz, 2008. "The biophysical perspective of a middle income economy: Material flows in Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1-2), pages 317-327, December.
- Ana Citlalic Gonzalez-Martinez & Heinz Schandl, . "The biophysical perspective of a middle income economy: Material Flows in Mexico," UHE Working papers 2007_10, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
- White, Thomas J., 2007. "Sharing resources: The global distribution of the Ecological Footprint," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 402-410, December.
- Weisz, Helga & Krausmann, Fridolin & Amann, Christof & Eisenmenger, Nina & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Hubacek, Klaus & Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, 2006. "The physical economy of the European Union: Cross-country comparison and determinants of material consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 676-698, July.
- Krausmann, Fridolin & Gingrich, Simone & Eisenmenger, Nina & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Haberl, Helmut & Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, 2009. "Growth in global materials use, GDP and population during the 20th century," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2696-2705, August.
- Heinz Schandl & Franzi Poldy & Graham M. Turner & Thomas G. Measham & Daniel H. Walker & Nina Eisenmenger, 2008.
"Australia's Resource Use Trajectories,"
Journal of Industrial Ecology,
Yale University, vol. 12(5-6), pages 669-685, October.
- Heinz Schandl & Franzi Poldy & Graham M Turner & Thomas G Measham & Daniel Walker & Nina Eisenmenger, 2008. "Australia’s Resource Use Trajectories," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2008-08, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
- Papathanasopoulou, Eleni & Jackson, Tim, 2009. "Measuring fossil resource inequality--A case study for the UK between 1968 and 2000," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(4), pages 1213-1225, February.
- Druckman, A. & Jackson, T., 2008. "Measuring resource inequalities: The concepts and methodology for an area-based Gini coefficient," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 242-252, April.
- White, Thomas, 2000. "Diet and the distribution of environmental impact," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 145-153, July.
- Vringer, Kees & Blok, Kornelis, 1995. "The direct and indirect energy requirements of households in the Netherlands," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 893-910, October.
- Gastwirth, Joseph L, 1972. "The Estimation of the Lorenz Curve and Gini Index," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 54(3), pages 306-16, August.
- World Bank, 2007. "World Development Indicators 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8150, April.
- York, Richard & Rosa, Eugene A. & Dietz, Thomas, 2003. "STIRPAT, IPAT and ImPACT: analytic tools for unpacking the driving forces of environmental impacts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 351-365, October.
- Behrens, Arno & Giljum, Stefan & Kovanda, Jan & Niza, Samuel, 2007. "The material basis of the global economy: Worldwide patterns of natural resource extraction and their implications for sustainable resource use policies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 444-453, December.
- Dorfman, Robert, 1979. "A Formula for the Gini Coefficient," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(1), pages 146-49, February.
- Jacobson, Arne & Milman, Anita D. & Kammen, Daniel M., 2005. "Letting the (energy) Gini out of the bottle: Lorenz curves of cumulative electricity consumption and Gini coefficients as metrics of energy distribution and equity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(14), pages 1825-1832, September.
- Pachauri, Shonali, 2004. "An analysis of cross-sectional variations in total household energy requirements in India using micro survey data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(15), pages 1723-1735, October.
- Cohen, Claude & Lenzen, Manfred & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2005. "Energy requirements of households in Brazil," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 555-562, March.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:5:p:1148-1158. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.