Sustainability measurements in China and Japan: an application of the inclusive wealth concept from a geographical perspective

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Inclusive wealth (IW) measures the wealth of all the assets from which human wellbeing is derived, including produced, human and natural capital. This metric represents a region’s capacity to create and maintain human wellbeing over time and reflects how human, manufactured, natural and environmental factors interact and contribute to sustainability. However, IW is mostly measured at national levels and thus is difficult to deploy in more fine-grained applications of regional sustainability. To fill this gap, we aimed to develop a hybrid geospatial method to measure IW at a finer resolution using multisource data and geographical technology and to understand how different capital types are distributed and interact at a regional scale. Taking China and Japan as examples, this paper mapped the distribution of IW and its three constituent forms of capital at an approximately 1 km resolution in both countries in 2017. Some patterns that cannot be observed in country-level studies are revealed. First, the IW density of Japan is approximately 6 times that of China, and Tokyo has over three times the IW as that of Beijing. This finding underscores the greater overall sustainability of Japan. Second, the results show clear regional variation and an urban-rural divide of wealth in both countries. There is a northeast-southwest demarcation line that divides China into two parts with different levels of wealth, and the IW of Japan is concentrated along the Taiheiyo Belt. Furthermore, contrasts exist between the distribution of natural and human capital. Natural capital always accounts for very little of the wealth in developed regions with high IW and, in particular, high human capital.

Original languageEnglish
Article number65
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change


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