How does consumer behavior influence regional ecological footprints? An empirical analysis for Chinese regions based on the multi-region input–output model

In Ecological Economics
Volume (Issue): Vol. 71/2011
Peer-reviewed Article

The calculation of national ecological footprints usingworld average productivities can lead to biased results due to the neglect of spatial variation in in-situ ecological impacts. To address this issue,we apply a regional approach to generate ecological footprints based on the multi-region input–output model. This method enables us to trace the origin of regional consumption and to systematically account for the ecological impacts embodied in interregional trade. By using decomposition analysis, we attribute regional differences in ecological footprints to three behavioral factors associated with consumption: the selection of production origins, the structure of consumption and the level of expenditure. An empirical study for China's eight regions shows substantial cross-regional variation in terms of the amount of land appropriation and the mix of land types. The empirical study also confirms that not only howmuch is being consumed and what is being consumed, but also geographical origins (and, by implication, regionally specific production processes and methods) influence consumption-induced ecological impacts. This paper therefore sheds light on the importance of accounting for interregional variation in consumer behaviors and recommends customized solutions to achieve effective reductions in regional ecological footprints.