Energy efficiency improvement is essential for China’s sustainable development of its social economy. Based on the provincial panel data of China’s three economic regions from 1990 to 2013, this research uses the data envelopment analysis (DEA) model to measure the total-factor energy efficiency, and the Tobit regression model to explore the driving factors of efficiency changes. Empirical results show: (1) Energy efficiency, energy consumption structure, and government fiscal scale are significantly positively correlated. (2) Industrial structure and per capita income level have negative correlation to energy efficiency; the impact of industrial structure on energy efficiency is relatively small. (3) The increase of carbon dioxide emissions will decrease the energy efficiency. Furthermore, with people becoming less conscious of energy conservation and emission reduction, energy efficiency will also decrease. (4) Specific energy policies will improve energy efficiency, and greater openness in coastal areas will also have the similar effect.
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