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The Biophysical Performance of Argentina (1970–2009)


  • Pedro Luis Perez Manrique,

    Corresponding author
    • Address correspondence to: Pedro Luis Perez Manrique, Institut de Ciències i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Edificio C, Campus de la UAB, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain. Email:

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  • Julien Brun,

  • Ana Citlalic González-Martínez,

  • Mariana Walter,

  • Joan Martínez-Alier


The biophysical features of the Argentinean economy are examined using a social metabolism approach. A material flow analysis (MFA) for this economy was conducted for the period 1970–2009. Results show that Argentina follows a resource-intensive and export-oriented development model with a persistent physical trade deficit. Also, Argentina's terms of trade (the average weight in tonnes of imports that can be purchased through the sale of 1 tonne of exports) show a declining trend in the period of study.

Argentina's economy shows a pattern typical of countries whose economies are based primarily on exports. Comparisons between Argentina's metabolic profile and the metabolic profile of other countries in Latin America and of Australia and Spain show that the Argentinean economy presents the same pattern as other Latin American exporting economies, and its terms of trade are opposite to those of industrialized economies.