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Regional variation in environmental inequality: Industrial air toxics exposure in U.S. cities

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  • Zwickl, Klara
  • Ash, Michael
  • Boyce, James K.

Abstract

This paper analyzes how racial and ethnic disparities in exposure to industrial air toxics in U.S. cities vary with neighborhood income, and how these disparities vary regionally across the country. Exposure is estimated at the census block-group level using geographic microdata from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We find that racial and ethnic disparities in pollution exposure are strongest among neighborhoods with median incomes below $25,000, while income-based disparities are stronger among neighborhoods with median incomes above that level. We also find considerable differences in the patterns of disparity across the ten EPA regions. In the two regions with the highest median exposure (the Midwest and South Central regions), for example, African-Americans and Hispanics face significantly higher exposures than whites, whereas in the region with the next highest exposure (the Mid-Atlantic), the reverse is true. We show that the latter result is attributable to intercity variations – minorities tend to live in the less polluted cities in the region – rather than to within-city variations.

Suggested Citation

  • Zwickl, Klara & Ash, Michael & Boyce, James K., 2014. "Regional variation in environmental inequality: Industrial air toxics exposure in U.S. cities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 494-509.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:107:y:2014:i:c:p:494-509
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.09.013
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    1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Environmental Economics > Environmental justice

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    2. Lutz Philip Hecker & Frank Wätzold & Gunther Markwardt, 2018. "Spotlight on Spatial Environmental Policy Spillovers: An Econometric Analysis of Wastewater Treatment in Mexican Municipalities," CESifo Working Paper Series 7251, CESifo.
    3. Alvarez, Camila H. & Evans, Clare Rosenfeld, 2021. "Intersectional environmental justice and population health inequalities: A novel approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 269(C).
    4. Boyce, James K. & Zwickl, Klara & Ash, Michael, 2016. "Measuring environmental inequality," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 114-123.
    5. Raphaël Homayoun Boroumand & Stéphane Goutte & Thomas Péran & Thomas Porcher, 2019. "Worker mobility and the purchase of low CO2 emission vehicles in France: a datamining approach," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 16(2), pages 171-205, December.
    6. Michael L. Polemis & Thanasis Stengos, 2019. "Does competition prevent industrial pollution? Evidence from a panel threshold model," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(1), pages 98-110, January.
    7. Zwickl, Klara, 2019. "The demographics of fracking: A spatial analysis for four U.S. states," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 202-215.
    8. John Voorheis, 2017. "Longitudinal Environmental Inequality and Environmental Gentrification: Who Gains From Cleaner Air?," CARRA Working Papers 2017-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    9. Raphaël Homayoun Boroumand & Stéphane Goutte & Thomas Péran & Thomas Porcher, 2019. "Worker mobility and the purchase of low CO2 emission vehicles in France: a datamining approach," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 16(2), pages 171-205, December.
    10. Zahran, Sammy & Iverson, Terrence & McElmurry, Shawn P. & Weiler, Stephan & Levitt, Ryan, 2019. "Hidden Costs of Blight and Arson in Detroit: Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Devil's Night," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 266-277.
    11. Yung-Hsiang Lu & Ku-Hsieh Chen & Jen-Chi Cheng & Chih-Chun Chen & Sian-Yuan Li, 2019. "Analysis of Environmental Productivity on Fossil Fuel Power Plants in the U.S," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(24), pages 1-27, December.
    12. Schaeffer, Y. & Tivadar, M., 2019. "Measuring Environmental Inequalities: Insights from the Residential Segregation Literature," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 1-1.
    13. Markwardt, Gunther & Hecker, Lutz & Wätzold, Frank, 2019. "Spotlight on spatial environmental policy spillovers: An econometric analysis of wastewater treatment in Mexican municipalities," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203627, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    14. Hecker, Lutz Philip & Wätzold, Frank & Markwardt, Gunther, 2020. "Spotlight on Spatial Spillovers: An Econometric Analysis of Wastewater Treatment in Mexican Municipalities," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental inequality; Environmental justice; Air pollution; Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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