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The Agricultural Water Rebound Effect in China

Jianfeng Song, Yanan Guo, Pute Wu and SHikun Sun

Ecological Economics, 2018, vol. 146, issue C, 497-506

Abstract: Although the water productivity of the agricultural sector in China continuously increased over the last twenty years, by improvements in irrigation technology, the total agricultural water use did not decline as expected, mainly due to continuous increases in agricultural output partially derived from technological progress. Thus, agricultural water use in China may experience a rebound effect. This study defines the water rebound effect (WRE) using macro-scale indicators of water use and water productivity, establishes a simplified direct comparison method using the contribution rate of technological progress, and evaluates the magnitude of the macro-scale water rebound effect in the Chinese agricultural sector using provincial panel data from 1997 to 2014. The magnitude of the agricultural WRE in China (1998–2014) is 61.49%. The northern and western regions of China experience a greater WRE than the southern and eastern regions, and the changes in the inter-annual WRE are distinct. These observations indicate that much of the expected water savings from efficiency improvement could be offset by increased water use for increased agricultural production due to technology enhancement. The control of water use growth is effective for reducing the water rebound effect. The study confirmed the existence of the agricultural WRE in China.

Keywords: Rebound effect; Agriculture; Water use; Water productivity; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.12.016

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