Regional Sustainability ›› 2022, Vol. 3 ›› Issue (3): 269-280.doi: 10.1016/j.regsus.2022.09.004

• Full Length Article • Previous Articles    

Latent dimensions between water use and socio-economic development: A global exploratory statistical analysis

Edson Elídio BALATAa, Hugo PINTOb,c,*(), Manuela Moreira da SILVAa,d,e   

  1. aInstitute of Engineering, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal
    bCentre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, 3000-995, Portugal
    cFaculty of Economics, University of Algarve, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal
    dCentre for Marine and Environmental Research (CIMA), University of Algarve, Faro, 8005-139, Portugal
    eCentre of Engineering and Product Development (CEiiA), Matosinhos, 4450-017, Portugal
  • Received:2022-03-16 Revised:2022-07-19 Accepted:2022-09-30 Online:2022-09-30 Published:2022-11-29
  • Contact: Hugo PINTO


Water use and socio-economic development are interconnected in complex ways. Causalities are not easy to identify but it is evident that a nexus between water use and socio-economic development does exist. Considering the diversity of national situations relating to these interrelated phenomena, its study should be considered from a global perspective. This article critically reviews the literature and information from official sources on the relevance of water use and circular economy in order to create a global picture, linking water with socio-economic development. Data from 195 countries was analyzed statistically. A factor analysis defined five essential latent dimensions on the nexus between water use and socio-economic development: development and basic services, population and resource, economic volume, health and well-being, and population density. Based on the identified factors, countries were classified into six groups: Global South in difficulty, global semi-periphery, advanced economy, Middle East and other Global South developing economy, global weight, and small highly developed economy. The clustering results clarify connections between water use conditions and socio-economic development. Understanding the variety of national profiles is helpful to reveal the magnitude and urgency of dealing with the nexus between water use and socio-economic development for many countries.

Key words: Water reuse, Circular economy, Water management, Urban water cycle, Socio-economic sustainable development, Country clusters, Factor analysis