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Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/S0921-8009(02)00052-6
Title (Primary) Material substitution and path dependence: Empirical evidence on the substitution of copper for aluminum
Author Messner, F.
Source Titel Ecological Economics
Year 2002
Department OEKON
Volume 42
Issue 1-2
Page From 259
Page To 271
Language englisch
Abstract Adopting an evolutionary perspective, this paper argues that path dependence plays a major role in material use and substitution such that it might delay or even prevent substitution despite the occurrence of significant relative price changes. After elucidating the importance of material substitution from an ecological-economic point of view and after explaining the meaning of path dependence from an evolutionary perspective, the copper–aluminum material substitution process is described for the main electrical conductor producing countries—the US, Germany, and Japan. This example makes clear that irrespective of attractive relative prices in favor of aluminum it could neither achieve a predominant market position nor is it possible to identify an explicit relation between relative price changes and relative material use in a qualitative analysis. Applying a Distributed Lag Model for data on copper and aluminum for electrical applications, the significance of relative prices and path dependence is examined for a 51-year time period for the US, Japan, and Germany. The results indicate that path dependence and relative prices—especially in the long run—are both important factors influencing the copper–aluminum substitution process. The major conclusions read that substitution processes cannot be predicted by relative price movements alone and that price instruments to encourage material substitution should not be overestimated. Instead, in the design of resource policies it should be considered that material substitution is an evolutionary and path-dependent process, which requires learning as well as time, capital, research, and experience.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Messner, F. (2002):
Material substitution and path dependence: Empirical evidence on the substitution of copper for aluminum
Ecol. Econ. 42 (1-2), 259 - 271 10.1016/S0921-8009(02)00052-6