Production and safety efficiency evaluation in Chinese coal mines: accident deaths as undesirable output

  • Malin Song
  • Jianlin WangEmail author
  • Jiajia Zhao
  • Tomas Baležentis
  • Zhiyang Shen
S.I.: RealCaseOR


Coal mining is one of the highest-risk industries in China. Accident deaths in coal mines attract intense concern every year. This is the first attempt to measure production efficiency of coal mines with consideration of accident deaths. A combined directional distance function and slacks-based model is proposed to assess production and safety efficiency across 18 coal-mining provinces in China. Results showed that the average total factor humanitarian-production efficiency is poor, with nearly half of production potential unexploited. Safety efficiency is also low, and half of the deaths would be avoided if all coal enterprises operated at fully efficient levels. The directional contribution analysis pointed out that southern provinces should pay more attention to accident deaths than northern ones, while the importance of reducing accident death in efficiency promotion declined for nearly all provinces, which creates a tradeoff between safety and efficiency for enterprises and regulators. The results of this study showed that the safety situation of coal mines is not as optimistic as the official data suggest. Effective prevention mechanisms are urgently needed to prevent disastrous accidents in coal mines in China.


Total factor humanitarian-production efficiency Total factor safety efficiency Directional distance function Slacks-based measure Accident deaths Coal mining 



We would like to show our appreciation for the support of the Humanities and Social Science Research of the Ministry of Education Youth Project of China (No. 16YJCZH155), the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (No. NCET-12-0595), National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71171001), Key Foundation of Natural Science for Colleges and Universities in Anhui, China (No. KJ2011A001), Soft Science Foundation of Anhui, China (No. 12020503063), and Key Foundation of National Research in Statistics of China (No. 2011LZ023), Humanities and Social Science Research Project of Education Department in Liaoning, China (No. LN2017QN001).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Statistics and Applied MathematicsAnhui University of Finance and EconomicsBengbuChina
  2. 2.Center for Industrial and Business OrganizationDongbei University of Finance and EconomicsDalianChina
  3. 3.Research Academy of Economic and Social DevelopmentDongbei University of Finance and EconomicsDalianChina
  4. 4.Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian EconomicsVilniusLithuania
  5. 5.The Export-Import Bank of ChinaBeijingChina

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