Scientific article
Open access

Ecologically unequal exchange and uneven development patterns along global value chains

Published inWorld development, vol. 170, p. 15
Publication date2023-10
First online date2023-06-29

This paper relates participation in global value chains (GVCs) to development patterns and ecologically

unequal exchange (EUE). We conduct a principal components analysis and a clustering analysis along

six dimensions (GVC participation, GVC value capture, investment, socioeconomic development, domes-

tic environmental impact and international environmental balance) for 133 countries between 1995 and

2015. We find three social, ecological, productive development and GVC insertion patterns: ‘‘curse of GVC

marginalization”, ‘‘ecologically perverse upgrading” and ‘‘reproduction of the core”. While our results confirm

the asymmetry in ecological degradation between high-income and low-income economies shown by

EUE, it refines and nuances these findings. We argue that environmental asymmetries are driven in large

part by differences in how countries articulate within GVCs. Countries with a higher capacity to capture

value from GVC participation (‘‘reproduction of the core”) are able to displace environmental impacts to

countries facing a trade-off between upgrading in GVCs and ecological degradation (‘‘ecologically perverse

upgrading”). Marginalization from GVCs, mitigates the impact of ecologically unequal exchange but con-

stitutes a barrier to socio-economic benefits. Moreover, the lack of diffusion of more ecologically-efficient

processes through GVCs has a negative impact on domestic ecological degradation for countries of the

‘‘curse of GVC marginalization” group.

  • Global value chains
  • Ecologically unequal exchange
  • Development pattern
Citation (ISO format)
ALTHOUSE, Jeffrey et al. Ecologically unequal exchange and uneven development patterns along global value chains. In: World development, 2023, vol. 170, p. 15. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2023.106308
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0305-750X

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