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Local Exposure to Toxic Releases: Does Ethnic Diversity Matter?


  • Matthew A Cole
  • Robert J R Elliott
  • Khemrutai Khemmarat


This paper examines the role played by community characteristics in influencing local environmental quality, focusing specifically on ethnic diversity. In contrast to the previous literature, this study argues that it is the fractionalization and/or polarization of ethnic groups that is the relevant consideration, rather than the population share of ethnic minorities, since such diversity may significantly increase the difficulty of co-ordinating community action. Using toxic release data for the period 1990-1995 and, for the first time, 2000-2005, we find that measures of ethnic diversity do indeed influence local toxic release emissions. This finding persists across a range of robustness exercises.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew A Cole & Robert J R Elliott & Khemrutai Khemmarat, 2010. "Local Exposure to Toxic Releases: Does Ethnic Diversity Matter?," Discussion Papers 10-29, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:bir:birmec:10-29

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    pollution; ethnic diversity; fractionalization; polarization; community characteristics; environmental justice;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General

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