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Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1263; doi:10.3390/su8121263

The Political Economy of the Water Footprint: A Cross-National Analysis of Ecologically Unequal Exchange

1
Department of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
2
Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
These authors contributed equally to this paper.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 12 October 2016 / Revised: 26 November 2016 / Accepted: 29 November 2016 / Published: 3 December 2016
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Abstract

Water scarcity is an important social and ecological issue that is becoming increasingly problematic with the onset of climate change. This study explores the extent to which water resources in developing countries are affected by the vertical flow of exports to high-income countries. In examining this question, the authors engage the sociological theory of ecologically unequal exchange, which argues that high-income countries are able to partially externalize the environmental costs of their consumption to lower-income countries. The authors use a relatively new and underutilized measure of water usage, the water footprint, which quantifies the amount of water used in the entire production process. Ordinary least squares (OLS) and robust regression techniques are employed in the cross-national analysis of 138 countries. The results provide partial support of the propositions of ecologically unequal exchange theory. In particular, the results highlight the importance of structural position in the global economy for understanding the effects of trade on water resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: environment; ecologically unequal exchange; development; water; water footprint; globalization environment; ecologically unequal exchange; development; water; water footprint; globalization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Fitzgerald, J.B.; Auerbach, D. The Political Economy of the Water Footprint: A Cross-National Analysis of Ecologically Unequal Exchange. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1263.

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