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Pollution Abatement Expenditure by U.S. Manufacturing Plants: Do Community Characteristics Matter?

  • Randy Becker

A number of previous studies have demonstrated the impact of community characteristics on environmental outcomes such as local pollution levels and the siting of noxious facilities. If certain groups are indeed exposed to higher levels of air pollution, it may be due to a greater concentration of air polluters in those communities and/or facilities in those areas investing less in air pollution abatement. This paper examines the latter, using establishment-level data on manufacturing plants from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Pollution Abatement Costs and Expenditures (PACE) survey. The empirical formulation herein allows plant-level air pollution abatement operating costs to depend on an array of community characteristics common to this literature. After controlling for establishment characteristics and federal, state, and local regulation, some of these local factors are found to have had an additional effect on air pollution abatement expenditures. In particular, populations with higher homeownership rates and higher per capita income enjoyed greater pollution abatement activity from their nearby plants. Meanwhile, establishments in communities where manufacturing accounted for a greater share of local employment had less pollution abatement spending, suggesting a local constituency that is more resistant to additional regulation. Political ideology is also found to play a role, with plants in areas with larger concentrations of Democrats having more expenditure on air pollution abatement, all else being equal. There is little evidence that race and ethnicity matter when it comes to the pollution abatement behavior of the most pollution-intensive facilities. The findings of this paper support those of a number of recent studies.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 03-18.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:03-18
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  1. Vernon Henderson, 1995. "Effects of Air Quality Regulation," NBER Working Papers 5118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Wilson, 2000. "Reexamining the Empirical Evidence for an Environmental Kuznets Curve," NBER Working Papers 7711, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kahn, Matthew E., 1997. "Particulate pollution trends in the United States," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 87-107, February.
  4. Arik Levinson, 2001. "An Industry-Adjusted Index of State Environmental Compliance Costs," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 131-158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kahn, Matthew E & Matsusaka, John G, 1997. "Demand for Environmental Goods: Evidence from Voting Patterns on California Initiatives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 137-73, April.
  6. John A. List & W. Warren McHone, 2000. "Measuring the effects of air quality regulations on "dirty" firm births: Evidence from the neo- and mature-regulatory periods," Papers in Regional Science, Springer, vol. 79(2), pages 177-190.
  7. Kenneth Y. Chay & Michael Greenstone, 2005. "Does Air Quality Matter? Evidence from the Housing Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 376-424, April.
  8. James T. Hamilton, 1995. "Testing for environmental racism: Prejudice, profits, political power?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 107-132.
  9. Gray, Wayne B. & Deily, Mary E., 1996. "Compliance and Enforcement: Air Pollution Regulation in the U.S. Steel Industry," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 96-111, July.
  10. Randy A. Becker & J. Vernon Henderson, 2001. "Costs of Air Quality Regulation," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy, pages 159-186 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Matthew E Kahn, 1997. "The Silver Lining Of Rust Belt Manufacturing Decline: Killing Off Pollution Externalities," Working Papers 97-7, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Carlo Carraro & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2000. "Behavioral and Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy Introduction," NBER Working Papers 7648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. James T. Hamilton, 1993. "Politics and Social Costs: Estimating the Impact of Collective Action on Hazardous Waste Facilities," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(1), pages 101-125, Spring.
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