Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 32, pp 32096–32111 | Cite as

Agricultural environmental total factor productivity in China under technological heterogeneity: characteristics and determinants

  • Haibin HanEmail author
  • Zhangqi Zhong
  • Changcun Wen
  • Huiguo Sun
Research Article


With limited resources, growing environment constraints and downward pressure on the economy, increasing agricultural environmental total factor productivity (AETFP) and its contribution to agricultural growth is significant for transforming agricultural development to make it more resource efficient and environment-friendly. This paper considered technological heterogeneity in different regions of China and measured AETFP in 30 provinces from 1997 to 2015 using the Metafrontier Malmquist-Luenberger (MML) productivity index. Multi-dimensional analysis was made on temporal and spatial characteristics, evolution patterns, and influencing factors of AETFP in China. The results showed that: (1) AETFP increased in the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Five-Year Plan periods, with average annual growth rates of 0.76%, 0.88%, 1.17%, and 0.87%, respectively. (2) The average annual growth rate of AETFP in the eastern, central, and western regions decreased successively. The eastern region generally had played a leading role. The central region had a catch-up effect on environmental production technologies from the eastern region, while the western region lacked the catch-up effect. (3) The dynamic evolution of AETFP had prominent features. For the whole nation, the kernel density curve of AETFP continuously moved to the right. The main peak value continuously decreased and the width of the main peak continuously increased. The internal differences of AETFP in the eastern and western regions exhibited an increasing trend, while the internal differences of AETFP in the central region showed little change. (4) There was an inverted U-shaped relationship between agricultural economic growth and AETFP. Both the disaster rate and planting structure had a negative impact on AETFP with varying degrees of significance. Income gaps between urban and rural areas can partially offset the role of urbanization in promoting the growth of AETFP. The greater the income differences between urban and rural areas, the weaker the role of urbanization in promoting the growth of AETFP. These findings can help the government determine policies to change the agricultural development mode and formulate effective measures to improve AETFP.


Technological heterogeneity Agricultural environmental total factor productivity Metafrontier Malmquist-Luenberger productivity index Influencing factors 



This research was supported by the National Social Science Foundation of China (No. 14BTJ014).

Compliance with ethical standards

Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

Not applicable.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haibin Han
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhangqi Zhong
    • 2
  • Changcun Wen
    • 3
  • Huiguo Sun
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Public AdministrationTianjin University of CommerceTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of EconomicsZhejiang University of Finance and EconomicsHangzhouChina
  3. 3.Institute of Rural DevelopmentZhejiang Academy of Agricultural SciencesHangzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Economics and ManagementTianjin Open UniversityTianjinChina

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