Water shortage is a global risk that could arguably be mitigated using water more efficiently. However, the profound relationship between water use efficiency and regional economic size has not been empirically tested. The research design employed an exploratory empirical analysis done through non-linear curve function and attempted to analyze the evolution of water use efficiency over economic growth. First, the water use efficiency change was decomposed into pure technical efficiency change, scale efficiency change, and technological advance change. Second, the scale efficiency is generally less than 1, revealing that it is the main reason for the decreased water use efficiency by the empirical analysis of trends across China. Third, the fitting function between water use efficiency and economic development was constructed. The results supported the existence of an inverted-S shape between water use efficiency and regional economic growth. This analysis will be the reference to formulate scenarios for economic and demographic growth coupled with water use, particularly for planning and managing future water provision and demand.

  • Water use efficiency was decomposed into three parts.

  • The inverted-S shape between water use efficiency and economic growth was simulated.

  • The cubic curve model can be used to simulate and predict the future water demand.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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