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China's regional natural resource allocation and utilization: a DEA-based approach in a big data environment

Zhu, Qingyuan, Wu, Jie, Li, Xingchen, Xiong, Beibei
Journal of cleaner production 2017 v.142 pp. 809-818
ecosystems, issues and policy, models, natural resources, production technology, resource allocation, China
China's economic reform and opening policy has resulted in China's rapid growth, especially in terms of economy. The growth, however, is mainly based on huge consumption of natural resources, and that consumption should be reduced by significant amounts to protect global ecosystems. Emerged in 1980s, “big data” has developed very quickly in recent years, bringing new perspectives and opportunities for all kinds of academic fields, especially in DEA since it is a research highly based on data. In this paper, we propose a SBM-DEA model based on natural resource input orientation to evaluate the efficiency of natural resource utilization for 26 provincial regions in mainland China from 2005 to 2012. A DEA-based approach is developed to allocate a reduced total of natural resources among the 26 provincial regions. Drawing support from the developments of “big data”, we use each provincial region's previously observed production data to characterize its own production technology, which allows a better analysis of how the production will change after allocations of natural resources are reduced. Our empirical study shows that most provincial regions perform well in terms of efficiency in utilizing natural resources, but that is based on huge consumption of natural resources. From an area perspective, the eastern area of China achieved the highest average efficiency value, followed by the central and western areas. Our study also indicates that the most effective allocation of the natural resources requires about half of the 26 provincial regions to reduce their natural resource consumption while the remaining ones can maintain their original consumption.