What Factors Have Changed Japanese Resource Productivity?

A Decomposition Analysis for 1995–2002


Address correspondence to:
Seiji Hashimoto
Research Center for Material Cycles and Waste Management
National Institute for Environmental Studies
16-2 Onogawa, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8506, Japan


In 2003, the Fundamental Plan for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society was developed; it established indicators and numerical targets for each of three aspects of material flows in Japan. One of the three indicators is resource productivity: Gross domestic product divided by direct material input (GDP/DMI). This article elucidates factors that have changed recent resource-use intensity (the inverse of resource productivity) in Japan. Specifically, the analysis emphasizes decomposing resource-use intensity into the factors of recycling, induced material-use intensity, demand structure, and average propensity to import. Conclusions drawn from analyses of data from the 1995–2002 period are as follows: (1) Changes in the structure of demand (i.e., the magnitude of the demand for a particular set of goods and services relative to total demand) produced the largest contribution to a reduction in resource-use intensity. In addition, the aggregate of the decline in induced material-use intensity and the improvement in recycling contributed as much as changes in the demand structure. (2) Final demand for construction declined steadily during the study period, resulting in the largest contribution to the decline in resource-use intensity. (3) Final demand for machinery and services increased, whereas their induced material-use intensity declined, contributing to the decline in resource-use intensity as a whole. (4) Although the effects of recycling are not great, the increased recycling of nonmetallic minerals contributed to the decline in resource-use intensity.