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Migration, class and environmental inequality: Exposure to pollution in China's Jiangsu Province

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  • Schoolman, Ethan D.
  • Ma, Chunbo

Abstract

Systematic research into social inequalities in the distribution of environmental hazards, though well-established in American sociology, has largely not been conducted using quantitative data from developing countries. In this study we consider whether theory and methods developed to test for and explain environmental inequality in the U.S. can be extended to a major developing country such as China. We argue that, due in part to the state's hukou registry system, urban workers in China with an official rural residence may be subject to disproportionate exposure to environmental pollution. We also argue that environmental inequalities in China may be shaped in part by social processes analogous to those which have been held to explain racial differences in pollution exposure in the U.S. In an analysis of the locations and emissions of pollution-producing facilities in China's Jiangsu province, we find that townships with a higher percentage of rural migrants are more likely to be exposed to high levels of air and water pollution. This finding holds even after we control for income and for the presence of “dirty and hard” industries in which rural migrants are most likely to find work.

Suggested Citation

  • Schoolman, Ethan D. & Ma, Chunbo, 2012. "Migration, class and environmental inequality: Exposure to pollution in China's Jiangsu Province," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 140-151.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:75:y:2012:i:c:p:140-151
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.01.015
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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Ying & Huang, Jikun & Zikhali, Precious, 2016. "The bittersweet fruits of industrialization in rural China: The cost of environment and the benefit from off-farm employment," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-10.
    2. Anna Shostya, 2016. "Ambient Air Pollution in China: Predicting a Turning Point," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 22(3), pages 295-307, August.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental inequality; Rural migrants; China; Industrial pollution; Environmental justice; Hukou system;

    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
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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