Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


Document Number

Research Paper #2004-1


Long-term materials demand patterns are important to examine because of the possibility of material obsolescence as well as the long lead times required to create new mineral productive capacity. Since structural changes in materials demand are inevitably linked to the performance and adjustments of national economies, materials life cycles have often been examined in the context of intensity of use (IOU). Explanations of these structural changes have focused on dematerialization; this concept implies a structural change in an economy embodying a reduced demand for materials and, therefore, a decline in overall industrial growth. An alternative view is that of transmaterialization, which implies a recurring industrial transformation in the way that economic societies use materials, a process that has occurred regularly or cyclically throughout history. These patterns vary notably across regions. The purpose of this paper is to explore more recent developments in the analysis of these concepts and to provide new directions for future applications.