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White Flight and Coming to the Nuisance: Can Residential Mobility Explain Environmental Injustice?

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  • Brooks Depro
  • Christopher Timmins
  • Maggie O'Neil

Abstract

Effective environmental justice (EJ) policy requires an understanding of the economic and social forces that determine the correlation between race, income, and pollution exposure. We show how the traditional approach used in many EJ analyses cannot identify nuisance-driven residential mobility. We develop an alternative strategy that overcomes this problem and implement it using data on air toxics from Los Angeles County, California, USA. Differences in estimated willingness to pay for cleaner air across race groups support the residential mobility explanation. Our results suggest that Hispanics may dislike cancer risk but be less willing to trade other forms of consumption to avoid it. As a result, household mobility responses may work against policies designed to address inequitable siting decisions for facilities with environmental health risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Brooks Depro & Christopher Timmins & Maggie O'Neil, 2015. "White Flight and Coming to the Nuisance: Can Residential Mobility Explain Environmental Injustice?," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 439-468.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jaerec:doi:10.1086/682716
    DOI: 10.1086/682716
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Catherine Hausman & Samuel Stolper, 2020. "Inequality, Information Failures, and Air Pollution," NBER Working Papers 26682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jeffrey P. Cohen & Cletus C. Coughlin & Jonas C. Crews, 2017. "Airport Noise in Atlanta: The Inequality of Sound," Working Papers 2017-15, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    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. Allison Shertzer & Tate Twinam & Randall P. Walsh, 2016. "Race, Ethnicity, and Discriminatory Zoning," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 217-246, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Stephan Heblich & Alex Trew & Yanos Zylberberg, 2016. "East Side Story: Historical Pollution and Persistent Neighborhood Sorting," CESifo Working Paper Series 6166, CESifo.
    7. Christopher Barrington-Leigh & Fatemeh Behzadnejad, 2017. "Evaluating the short-term cost of low-level local air pollution: a life satisfaction approach," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 19(2), pages 269-298, April.
    8. Bakkensen, Laura A. & Ma, Lala, 2020. "Sorting over flood risk and implications for policy reform," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    9. Cohen, Jeffrey P. & Coughlin, Cletus C. & Crews, Jonas, 2019. "Traffic noise in Georgia: Sound levels and inequality," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 150-165.
    10. Solomon Hsiang & Paulina Oliva & Reed Walker, 2019. "The Distribution of Environmental Damages," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(1), pages 83-103.
    11. Rüttenauer, Tobias & Best, Henning, 2020. "Perceived Pollution and Residential Sorting in Germany: Income May Not Sort, But it Helps to Escape," SocArXiv wdu2n, Center for Open Science.
    12. Janet Currie & John Voorheis & Reed Walker, 2020. "What Caused Racial Disparities in Particulate Exposure to Fall? New Evidence from the Clean Air Act and Satellite-Based Measures of Air Quality," Working Papers 20-02, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

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