SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (1): 110-118.doi: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2023.01.012

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Decoupling and decomposition of driving factors of water resources utilization and economic growth in the Yellow River Basin

Li Ruzi1,2(), Bai Yi2, Zhou Yunnan2, Huang Shuqi2, Yan Zhenning2, Li Yingzi2, Zhao Hongbo3,*()   

  1. 1. Research Center of Central China Economic and Social Development, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330031, Jiangxi, China
    2. School of Economics and Management, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330031, Jiangxi, China
    3. Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development & Collaborative Innovation Center on the Yellow River Civilization, Henan Province and Ministry of Education, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, Henan, China
  • Received:2021-02-11 Revised:2021-11-01 Online:2023-01-30 Published:2023-01-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42101168)


Water resources are the most rigid constraint for ecological protection and high-quality development in the Yellow River Basin. This paper first measures the changes of water footprint of the Yellow River basin from a structural perspective, and then analyzes the decoupling of water footprint and economic growth based on Tapio decoupling model and Kaya-LMDI decomposition model, and identifies the driving factors of water resources utilization change from the technical effect, structural effect, scale effect, endowment effect, urbanization effect and population effect. We found that: 1) the water footprint of the Yellow River basin is on the rise, the proportion of agricultural water footprint is as high as 85%, and the upside down problem of water structure and industrial structure is prominent; 2) The spatial distribution of water resource and water footprint does not match in the upper and lower reaches of the Yellow River basin, and the middle and lower reaches face more serious water resources restriction. 3) The relationship between water footprint and economic growth is mainly weak decoupling, but the provinces began to shift to strong decoupling in the period of 2015-2019. 4) Scale effect, urbanization effect, and population effect play a role in pulling water footprint changes, while technological effect, structural effect, and endowment effect play an inhibitory role in water footprint changes, but there is still potential for improvement. There are certain differences in influencing factors in different provinces and regions. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the research and extension of water resources utilization technology, promote the intensive development of agriculture, improve the efficiency of agricultural water use, further optimize the industrial structure and new urbanization construction, alleviate the dilemma of water resources constraints, and promote the high-quality economic development of the Yellow River Basin.

Key words: the Yellow River Basin, high-quality development, water footprint, Tapio decoupling, Kaya-LMDI model