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Eco-efficiency of the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone: An evaluation based on a novel eco-efficiency model and empirical analysis of influencing factors

Zhu, Wei, Xu, Lingxing, Tang, Lina, Xiang, Xueqin
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.234 pp. 638-652
computer software, decision making, eco-efficiency, empirical research, energy, financial economics, geographic information systems, issues and policy, markets, models, population density, regression analysis, sustainable development, China, Taiwan
Obtaining the most economic benefits while using the least resources and causing the least environmental damage is an urgent and key problem in achieving sustainable development. The concept of eco-efficiency provides a comprehensive perspective for observing and solving this problem. This paper proposes an extended data envelopment analysis model, named the WIN-US-SBM, as a comprehensive eco-efficiency evaluation method that can accommodate undesirable outputs, all the identification problems of decision-making units (DMUs), possible slacks of variables, and the problems of an insufficient number of available DMUs and intertemporal comparability. China's Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone (WTS Economic Zone) is an important regional economic growth center. By applying WIN-US-SBM and ArcGIS software, we investigated data on the temporal and spatial evolution characteristics of eco-efficiency in the WTS Economic Zone for the years 2009–2016. Later, the global Malmquist–Luenberger index was used to decompose the sources of growth in eco-efficiency. Finally, the main driving factors of eco-efficiency were explored through a Tobit regression analysis. The empirical results show that: (1) The overall eco-efficiency of the WTS Economic Zone had greatly improved, increasing by 11.46% annually, and the cumulative growth rate of eco-efficiency was 110.84% from 2009 to 2016. (2) The eastern area had the highest average eco-efficiency, followed by the western area and the middle area in that order. Also, the growth rate of the middle area ranked first (16.68%), whereas the eastern area had the slowest growth in eco-efficiency (7.22%). (3) On the whole, the growth of eco-efficiency was driven mainly by technological progress and was restricted by the decrease in management level, which implies that policy makers should focus on improving management and technical levels. (4) High levels of economic development, population density, market openness, and industrial structure had positive effects on the eco-efficiency of the WTS Economic Zone, whereas energy intensity and expenditure on science and technology had negative impacts.