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Title: Data frameworks in monetary, physical and time units for quantitative sustainable consumption research
Author: Minx, Jan Christoph
ISNI:       0000 0001 3410 7525
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2007
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The overriding aim of this thesis is to establish how integrated input-output data frameworks in monetary, physical and time units can contribute to a better understanding of the environmental pressures generated by a given final demand including the underlying economic, social and demographic driving forces. The thesis mainly focuses on environmental input-output analysis and related methods and evaluates the opportunities provided by recent data developments at the Federal Statistical Office. In particular, physical input-output tables and social accounting extensions published as part of the 'socio-economic reporting system' are used for improving the specification and conceptualisation of production technology and lifestyles. The first part of the thesis contributes to the recent discussion on monetary and physical input-output analysis. In particular, it looks at how the representation of production technology can be improved through the availability of information from physical input-output tables (PIOT) to allow for a more robust allocation of environmental pressures to final consumption/demand. The conceptual discussion highlights a whole range of misperceptions in the debate associated with the construction of the German PIOT and highlights the shared conceptual basis between monetary input-output tables (MIOT) and PIOTs to the extent to which product flows are concerned. However, a detailed empirical comparison of production structures in monetary and physical units using the graph theoretical toolkit provided by qualitative input-output analysis highlights fundamental differences in their representation of technologies due to the particular scope of monetary and physical measurement: 45% of all intermediate product flows in MIOT and PIOT are fundamentally different in that they have a positive record in one table and a zero record in the other. As expected, most of these are 'weightless' immaterial service flows. However, the thesis highlights that such fundamental differences in the production structures associated with intermediate service flows are not only relevant in tertiary sectors, but are prominent throughout the economy: in fact, for some manufacturing sectors of capital goods with a high service component immaterial service flows can make up to 90% of all intermediate outputs, highlighting the importance of an endogenisation of capital investment for an adequate attribution of environmental pressures to final demands. Remaining differences are explained by unpriced, material flows in environmental service sectors (recycling, waste treatment), where PIOTs provide a more comprehensive coverage. The first part of this thesis concludes by highlighting that production technology in environmental input-output models will usually be most appropriately specified in hybrid units. An outline of some of the main avenues for future research is provided. The second part of the thesis uses detailed SAM-type extensions to better understand the environmental pressures associated with lifestyles in their socio-demographic context. Initially, an expenditure based lifestyle definition is deployed. to analyse the social and demographic driving forces behind changes in GHG emissions associated with consumption patterns of 45 lifestyle groups in Germany between 1990 and 2002. A structural decomposition analysis confirms previous studies in that most technologically induced reductions in GHG emissions have been 'eaten-up' by additional emissions from growth in final consumption. However, results highlight that important demographic trends are at work at the same time counteracting GHG emission savings. These pressures need to be considered in climate change policy formation, if climate change targets are to be delivered. Results from the environmental input-output model are further analysed using a panel regression approach in order to highlight the influence of individual social, economic and demographic determinants of GHG emissions. The time-specific effects capture the slowing progress in GHG emission reductions after the re-unification in Germany. Group specific effects highlight the dominance of household size and the belongingness to a particular social group for differences in GHG emissions from consumption patterns of different lifestyle groups. The analysis is concluded by highlighting the importance of adding social and demographic information into standard environmental input-output frameworks to better understand global environmental pressures generated by the consumption patterns of different lifestyle groups. However, the top-down classification of lifestyles as commonly applied in national accounting based on only a few socio-demographic descriptors such as income, occupancy and household size is seen to limit the analysis. Of at least equal importance with people's social and demographic characteristics are the local conditions within which they are acting: general neighbourhood characteristics, the accessibility of private and public services and building properties (size, type, age, insulation etc.). Geodemographic lifestyle classifications, as commonly applied by marketing practitioners, are proposed as a spatially-specific alternative raising hopes to overcome the 'one size fits all'-type policy recommendations which are commonly derived from environmental input-output models. Finally, the commonly applied expenditure based lifestyle definition is fundamentally challenged. It is argued that a lifestyle definition should be based on what people do rather than on what they spend. Following the economic household production function literature, this activity focus in the empirical description of lifestyles can be achieved through the introduction of time-use data. The usefulness of the approach is demonstrated in an empirical example using data from the input-output tables in time units provided by the Federal Statistical Office of Gennany. In the Appendix of this thesis, an initial analysis of the social and economic determinants of CO2 emissions based on geo-demographic lifestyle data is provided. Furthermore, different ways of dealing with environmental pressures from imported products based on single region and multi-regional input-output models are discussed and a methodology for estimating Ecological Footprints based on input-output analysis is proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available