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Environmental Justice: The Economics of Race, Place, and Pollution

Author

Listed:
  • Spencer Banzhaf
  • Lala Ma
  • Christopher Timmins

Abstract

The grassroots movement that placed environmental justice issues on the national stage around 1980 was soon followed up by research documenting the correlation between pollution and race and poverty. This work has established inequitable exposure to nuisances as a stylized fact of social science. In this paper, we review the environmental justice literature, especially where it intersects with work by economists. First we consider the literature documenting evidence of disproportionate exposure. We particularly consider the implications of modeling choices about spatial relationships between polluters and residents, and about conditioning variables. Next, we evaluate the theory and evidence for four possible mechanisms that may lie behind the patterns seen: disproportionate siting on the firm side, "coming to the nuisance" on the household side, market-like coordination of the two, and discriminatory politics and/or enforcement. We argue that further research is needed to understand how much weight to give each mechanism. Finally, we discuss some policy options.

Suggested Citation

  • Spencer Banzhaf & Lala Ma & Christopher Timmins, 2019. "Environmental Justice: The Economics of Race, Place, and Pollution," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 185-208, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:33:y:2019:i:1:p:185-208
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.33.1.185
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Garg, Teevrat & McCord, Gordon C. & Montfort, Aleister, 2020. "Can Social Protection Reduce Environmental Damages?," IZA Discussion Papers 13247, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Mullins, Jamie & White, Corey, 2019. "Does Access to Health Care Mitigate Environmental Damages?," IZA Discussion Papers 12717, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Catherine Hausman & Samuel Stolper, 2020. "Inequality, Information Failures, and Air Pollution," NBER Working Papers 26682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Danae Hernandez-Cortes & Kyle C. Meng, 2020. "Do Environmental Markets Cause Environmental Injustice? Evidence from California’s Carbon Market," NBER Working Papers 27205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jasper N. Meya, 0. "Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 0, pages 1-36.
    6. Li, Liqing & Ando, Amy W., 2020. "Early Exposure to Nature and Willingness-To-Pay for Conservation," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304235, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. Pinchbeck, Edward W. & Roth, Sefi & Szumilo, Nikodem & Vanino, Enrico, 2020. "The Price of Indoor Air Pollution: Evidence from Radon Maps and the Housing Market," IZA Discussion Papers 13655, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. H. Spencer Banzhaf & Kyle Mangum, 2019. "Capitalization as a Two-Part Tariff: The Role of Zoning," Working Papers 19-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    9. Tatyana Deryugina & Nolan Miller & David Molitor & Julian Reif, 2020. "Geographic and Socioeconomic Heterogeneity in the Benefits of Reducing Air Pollution in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy, volume 2, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Glenn Althor & Bradd Witt, 2020. "A quantitative systematic review of distributive environmental justice literature: a rich history and the need for an enterprising future," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 10(1), pages 91-103, March.
    11. Pierre Levasseur & Katrin Erdlenbruch & Christelle Gramaglia, 2019. "Why do people continue to live near polluted sites? Empirical evidence from Southwestern Europe," CEE-M Working Papers hal-02277633, CEE-M, Universtiy of Montpellier, CNRS, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro.
    12. Albouy, David & Christensen, Peter & Sarmiento-Barbieri, Ignacio, 2020. "Unlocking amenities: Estimating public good complementarity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
    13. Jasper N. Meya, 2020. "Environmental Inequality and Economic Valuation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 76(2), pages 235-270, July.
    14. Peter Christensen & Ignacio Sarmiento-Barbieri & Christopher Timmins, 2020. "Housing Discrimination and the Toxics Exposure Gap in the United States: Evidence from the Rental Market," NBER Working Papers 26805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Can Zou & Jun Tai & Li Chen & Yue Che, 2020. "An Environmental Justice Assessment of the Waste Treatment Facilities in Shanghai: Incorporating Counterfactual Decomposition into the Hedonic Price Model," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(8), pages 1-12, April.
    16. Janet Currie & Reed Walker, 2019. "What Do Economists Have to Say about the Clean Air Act 50 Years after the Establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 3-26, Fall.
    17. Scott, Ryan P. & Scott, Tyler A. & Greer, Robert A., 2019. "The environmental and safety performance of gas utilities in the United States," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 133(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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