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Ranking farms with a composite indicator of sustainability


  • Ernest Reig-Martínez

    (Universidad de Valencia. Dpto. Economía Aplicada II)

  • José A. Gómez-Limón

    (Instituto Andaluz de Investigación y Formación Agraria y Pesquera. Dpto. Economía Agraria. Córdoba.)

  • Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo

    (Universidad de Valencia. Dpto. Economía Aplicada II and Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas (IVIE).)


The assessment of sustainability at farm level has been growing in popularity over the last years. This paper contributes to this line of research by building up composite indicators for different facets –social, economic, environmental and global– of farm sustainability using a methodological approach that combines Data Envelopment Analysis and Multi Criteria Decision Methods. This approach is applied to a database of 163 farms located in the Spanish Northern Plateau. Our findings show that both economic and environmental sustainability indicators are positively correlated, but that this is not the case for the social indicator. We also check the influence of a set of variables on farm sustainability using bootstrapping techniques, and showing that increasing farm size, membership on agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ medium and upper agricultural-specific technical education all exert a significant positive influence on sustainability. These results provide clues for policy-makers that intend to design sustainability-increasing structural agricultural policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Ernest Reig-Martínez & José A. Gómez-Limón & Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo, 2010. "Ranking farms with a composite indicator of sustainability," Working Papers 1005, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
  • Handle: RePEc:eec:wpaper:1005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bohringer, Christoph & Jochem, Patrick E.P., 2007. "Measuring the immeasurable -- A survey of sustainability indices," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-8, June.
    2. Diaz-Balteiro, Luis & Romero, Carlos, 2004. "In search of a natural systems sustainability index," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 401-405, July.
    3. Latacz-Lohmann, Uwe & Hodge, Ian D., 2003. "European agri-environmental policy for the 21st century," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 47(1), pages 1-17.
    4. André, Francisco J. & Herrero, Inés & Riesgo, Laura, 2010. "A modified DEA model to estimate the importance of objectives with an application to agricultural economics," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 371-382, October.
    5. Gómez-Limón, José A. & Sanchez-Fernandez, Gabriela, 2010. "Empirical evaluation of agricultural sustainability using composite indicators," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1062-1075, March.
    6. Van Passel, Steven & Nevens, Frank & Mathijs, Erik & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2007. "Measuring farm sustainability and explaining differences in sustainable efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 149-161, April.
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    More about this item


    Sustainability index; Agriculture; Data Envelopment Analysis; Multi-Criteria Decision Making; Spain;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q10 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - General

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