Digital Economy and Environmental Sustainability: Do Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and Economic Complexity Matter?
In the current era of digital economy, the role of information communication and technology (ICT) and economic complexity are important for controlling environmental unsustainability and formulating policies to deal with ecological concerns. However, the relationship between digital economy and environment has been studied widely; nevertheless, the relationship between ICT-based digital economy, economic complexity, and ecological footprint has not been studied extensively. Therefore, the aim of current study is to fill the existing gap by investigating the relationship between ICT, economic complexity, and ecological footprint in the case of G-seven (digital) economies. Furthermore, the past research studies were usually based on carbon emissions to measure environmental sustainability, while this study fills the gap using ecological footprint as a proxy for environmental degradation. By using the panel data over the period of 2001–2018 for G-seven economies, this study performs first-generation as well as second-generation unit root testing methods. Findings of both Pesaran’s and B&P’s cross-sectional dependence testing approaches confirm the presence of cross-sectional dependence across all G-seven economies. The empirical findings of cointegration (Pedroni and Kao) tests verify a stable long-run association between ecological footprint, ICT import, ICT export, economic complexity, economic growth, and other control grouped variables. The empirical evidence obtained from the fully modified OLS model suggests that ICT export, economic complexity, and economic growth enhance the intensity of ecological footprint, while ICT import, research and development (RD), and trade are helpful in reducing ecological footprint in G-seven economies. These empirical findings obtained are verified by pooled mean group-ARDL (PMG-ARDL) methodologies and confirm that there is no inconsistency in the results. On the basis of these results, some policy implications for ecological footprint, ICT, and economic complexity are discussed.
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