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Bigger cakes with less ingredients? A comparison of material use of the world economy

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  • Pothen, Frank
  • Schymura, Michael

Abstract

The amount of materials used worldwide in production and consumption increased by 56 per cent from 1995 to 2008. Using an index decomposition analysis based on the logarithmic mean divisia index, we investigate the drivers of material use, both on a global and a country scale. We exploit a panel dataset of 40 countries, accounting for 75 per cent of worldwide material extraction and 88 per cent of GDP, from 1995 to 2008. The results show that economic growth and structural change towards material-intensive countries explain most of the growth in global material use. Slight gains in material efficiency and falling importance of material-intensive sectors have decelerating effects. The country-level analysis reveals substantial heterogeneity. Some nations exhibit stable or falling material use, while it increases notably in most countries. Improving material efficiency is able to dampen growth of material use in important industrializing nations like China or India.

Suggested Citation

  • Pothen, Frank & Schymura, Michael, 2014. "Bigger cakes with less ingredients? A comparison of material use of the world economy," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-030, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:14030
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kaltenegger, Oliver & Löschel, Andreas & Pothen, Frank, 2017. "The effect of globalisation on energy footprints: Disentangling the links of global value chains," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S1), pages 148-168.
    2. Kaltenegger, Oliver & Löschel, Andreas & Baikowski, Martin & Lingens, Jörg, 2017. "Energy costs in Germany and Europe: An assessment based on a (total real unit) energy cost accounting framework," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 419-430.
    3. Frank Pothen & Heinz Welsch, 2017. "Economic Development and Material Use," Working Papers V-399-17, University of Oldenburg, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2017.
    4. Florian Flachenecker, 2015. "Sustainability, Resource Efficiency and Competitiveness. An Assessment of Resource Efficiency Policies in the European Union," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 32, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    5. repec:eee:ecolec:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:154-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:wdevel:v:115:y:2019:i:c:p:107-119 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Pothen, Frank, 2017. "A structural decomposition of global Raw Material Consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 154-165.
    8. Pothen, Frank & Welsch, Heinz, 2019. "Economic development and material use. Evidence from international panel data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 107-119.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Material use; Index decomposition analysis; Economic growth;

    JEL classification:

    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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