Inventory development and input-output model of U.S. Land use: Relating land in production to consumption

Christine Costello, W. Michael Griffin, H. Scott Matthews, Christopher L. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


As populations and demands for land-intensive products, e.g., cattle and biofuels, increase the need to understand the relationship between land use and consumption grows. This paper develops a production-based inventory of land use (i.e., the land used to produce goods) in the U.S. With this inventory an input-output analysis is used to create a consumption-based inventory of land use. This allows for exploration of links between land used in production to the consumption of particular goods. For example, it is possible to estimate the amount of cropland embodied in processed foods or healthcare services. As would be expected, agricultural and forestry industries are the largest users of land in the production-based inventory. Similarly, we find that processed foods and forest products are the largest users of land in the consumption-based inventory. Somewhat less expectedly this work finds that the majority of manufacturing and service industries, not typically associated with land use, require substantial amounts of land to produce output due to the purchase of food and other agricultural and wood-based products in the supply chain. The quantitative land use results of this analysis could be integrated with qualitative metrics such as weighting schemes designed to reflect environmental impact or life cycle impact assessment methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4937-4943
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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