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Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Ash

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • James K. Boyce

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Grace Chang

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Helen Scharber

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

This paper examines spatial variations in exposure to toxic air pollution from industrial facilities in urban areas of the United States, using geographic microdata from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators project. We find that average exposure in an urban area is positively correlated with the extent of racial and ethnic disparity in the distribution of the exposure burden. This correlation could arise from causal linkages in either or both directions: the ability to displace pollution onto minorities may lower the effective cost of pollution for industrial firms; and higher average pollution burdens may induce whites to invest more political capital in efforts to influence firms’ siting decisions. Furthermore, we find that in urban areas with higher minority pollution-exposure discrepancies, average exposures tend to be higher for all population subgroups, including whites. In other words, improvements in environmental justice in the United States could benefit not only minorities but also whites. JEL Categories: P16, Q53, Q56, R3.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Ash & James K. Boyce & Grace Chang & Helen Scharber, 2010. "Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2010-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2010-05
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    File URL: http://www.umass.edu/economics/publications/2010-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Princen, Thomas, 1997. "The shading and distancing of commerce: When internalization is not enough," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 235-253, March.
    2. William T. Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Molloy Wilson, 2002. "Reexamining The Empirical Evidence For An Environmental Kuznets Curve," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 541-551, August.
    3. Wolverton Ann, 2009. "Effects of Socio-Economic and Input-Related Factors on Polluting Plants' Location Decisions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-32, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Undp, 2011. "HDR 2011 - Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All," Human Development Report (1990 to present), Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), number hdr2011, December.
    2. Cole, Matthew A. & Elliott, Robert J.R. & Khemmarat, Khemrutai, 2013. "Local exposure to toxic releases: Examining the role of ethnic fractionalization and polarisation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 249-259.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental justice; air pollution; industrial toxics; Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators.;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • 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
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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