Measuring Water Transport Efficiency in the Yangtze River Economic Zone, China

Dan He, Gao Peng, Zhijing Sun, Yui Yip Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
271 Downloads (Pure)


Water transport, a component of integrated transport systems, is a key strategic resource for achieving sustainable economic and social development, particularly in the Yangtze River Economic Zone (YREZ). Unfortunately, systematic studies on water transport efficiency are not forthcoming. Using Data Envelope Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and the Malmquist index as a model framework, this paper measures water transport efficiency in YREZ, conducts spatial analysis to identify the leading factors influencing efficiency, and provides scientific evidence for a macroscopic grasp of water transport development and the optimization of YREZ. The results indicate that water transport technical efficiency (TE) in YREZ is low and in fluctuating decline. Therefore, it has seriously restricted performance and improvements in the service function. Additionally, the spatial pattern of TE has gradually changed from complexity and dispersion to clarity and contiguity with a larger inter-provincial gap. Water transport efficiency has slightly improved through technological change (TECHch), whereas deteriorating pure technical efficiency change (PEch) is the main cause of a TE decrease. According to our findings, decision-makers should consider strengthening intra-port competition and promoting water transport efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9(12)
Pages (from-to)2278-2291
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Early online date8 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2017


  • water transport efficiency
  • DEA and Malmquist index model
  • the Yangtze River Economic Zone (YREZ)
  • spatial pattern evolution


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