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How does the use of industrial robots affect the ecological footprint? International evidence
Ecological Economics  (IF6.536),  Pub Date : 2022-05-20, DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2022.107483
Yang Chen, Liang Cheng, Chien-Chiang Lee

While the use of industrial robots (UIR) promotes economic growth, it inevitably also has an impact on the ecological environment. This research explores the relationship between UIR and ecological footprint based on data of 72 countries from 1993 to 2019. First, whether based on overall or sub-industry data we confirm that UIR reduces the ecological footprint. After considering a series of robustness tests such as sample self-selection bias and endogeneity, this conclusion still holds. Second, the mediation effect model shows that UIR reduces the ecological footprint through the time saving effect, green employment effect, and energy upgrading effect and increases the ecological footprint through the industry driving effect, and that the impact of UIR's reduction of the ecological footprint is dominant. Third, the moderating effect model shows that as the levels of economic development and human capital increase, UIR can more effectively reduce the ecological footprint. Fourth, in OECD countries and at a high quantile of the ecological footprint, the effect of UIR on reducing the ecological footprint is more obvious. This paper presents a new perspective for UIR to achieve economic development and ecological protection at the same time. Governments of various countries should actively seize the opportunity to develop industrial robots, continue to increase human capital investment, and accelerate the upgrade of energy sectors.