The international allocation of natural resources is determined, not by any ethical or ecological criteria, but by the dominance of market mechanisms. From a core–periphery perspective, this allocation may even be driven by historically determined structural patterns, with a core group of countries whose consumption appropriates most available natural resources, and another group, having low natural resource consumption, which plays a peripheral role. This article consists of an empirical distributional analysis of natural resource consumption (as measured by Ecological Footprints) whose purpose is to assess how strongly countries cluster together based on their Ecological Footprints: this is the extent to which the distribution of consumption responds to polarization (as opposed to mere inequality). To assess this, we estimate and decompose different polarization indices for a balanced sample of 119 countries over the period 1961 to 2007. Our results point towards a polarized distribution which is consistent with a core–periphery framework.
Keywords: Polarization; Core–periphery; Ecological Footprint