Changing metal intensities in the process of industrialisation in China


Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 20 July 2010


Acton Lecture Theatre, #132 JG Crawford Building, ANU


Ligang Song


Hayley Primrose
6125 4387
The study reinvigorates the theoretical field that relates economic development to metal usage and sheds light on China’s future path of ferrous metal demand by referencing the experience of relevant peers over the entire course of the industrialisation process. The study formally identifies the existence of the Kuznets inverted U curve for steel (KCS), and validates the synthesis view of metal intensity, which sees a role for both technological leapfrogging and evolving consumer preferences in determining changes in metal intensity. The econometric analysis indicates that China will reach the turning point in its own KCS when its GDP per capita is quadrupled from the current level, predicted to be reached in about fifteen years from now on. The study concludes that, as China progresses towards high income status, it is unlikely to continue to closely follow the Korean path characterised by its exceptionally high degree of metal intensity as it progresses in industrialisation. This is due to the fact that China will be compelled to alter its mode of economic growth away from the current reliance on heavy industry, investment and export-orientation in the next phase of its growth and development. As a consequence, China’s final path of metal intensity is likely to be a blend of certain aspects of the experiences of North America, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Western Europe, Japan and emerging Asia.

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