SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2015, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (4): 419-426.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2015.04.419

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The Chinese Urban Metabolic Efficiencies Based on the DEA and Malmquist

Xue-ting CHEN1, Tao SONG2(), Jian-ming CAI2, Le LI2,3, Yu DENG2   

  1. 1. School of Geographical Science, Changchun, Jilin 130024, China
    2. Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
    3. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
  • Received:2014-01-25 Revised:2014-04-09 Online:2015-04-20 Published:2015-04-20


Urban metabolic systems are co-evolution systems of the urban economic development, the natural environment and the social environment. In this article, 31 Chinese cities′ metabolic efficiencies are tested by the material flow analysis, data envelopment analysis (DEA) and Malmquist index. Inputs and outputs of urban metabolic systems in 2000, 2010 are measured in the DEA and Malmquist index, such as economic output, environmental undesirable output, water, electricity, fossil fuels, metallic minerals, building materials, food and other inputs. Chinese cities metabolic systems have relatively high overall efficiencies, especially cities in the Eastern Coastal and Central China, with higher pure technical efficiencies and scale efficiencies than the western cities. In 2000, Tianjin, Haikou and other six cities reached the DEA optimal; while in 2010, seven cities reached the DEA optimal. The overall metabolic efficiencies of such highly developed cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Suzhou and other cities have maintained a relatively high level, with the average reaching more than 0.5. While the least efficient cities, Fuzhou, Chongqing and et al., have not improved significantly during the last decade. Large cities have better performances in urban efficiencies than that in giant, large and extra large cities. Since 2000 to 2010, the overall urban metabolic efficiencies, pure technical efficiencies and all other efficiency indicators show a decreasing trend, except the overall efficiencies and pure technical efficiencies of cities in the Western and Central China. It is important to take the strategy of resource-conservation and environmental protection to enhance the metabolic efficiencies of Chinese cities. Moreover, the overall urban metabolic efficiencies in large and extra-large cities are better than that in mega-cities, which proves that the moderate expansions of cities should be encouraged and supported in order to highlight scale economies; on the other hand, the government should control the scale of mega-cities to avoid diseconomies of scale. In addition, Most of the cities’ high scale efficiencies are the main reason for the urban better overall efficiency, which reflects the increasing returns to scale in urban metabolic efficiencies.

Key words: urban metabolic efficiency, material flow analysis, DEA, Malmquist index, Chinese cities

CLC Number: 

  • F290