Sustainable development is a multidimensional concept. Many different
sets of sustainability indicators including some composite indices have
been developed over the years to assess progress to sustainable
development in a place. None of the indices has universal acceptance.
This paper at tempts to evaluate progress toward sustainable
development at 242 representat ive prefecture-level cities in China
using a multi-criteria decision making method, TOPSIS, with entropy
weights. One of the advantages of TOPSIS method is that it uses cost
benefit approach with importance weights of the indices. In order to
construct the sustainability evaluation index system, we use 46 indices
under 11 criteria that belong to 3 subsystems – economic, social, and
resource and environmental. The results show that the Spearman
rank-correlation coefficient between the sustainability ranking of cities
based on TOPSIS model and the ranking of cities based on per capita
GDP is only 0.43, while that between sustainability ranking and GDP
ranking is 0.81 with a rank difference as high as 230. Another finding of
this study is that resource-based cities top the list based on per capita
GDP ranking, but they don’t do as well in sustainability ranking based
on TOPSIS model with entropy weights.
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