Measuring Environmental Inequality

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Apr 01, 2016
James K. Boyce, Klara Zwicki, and Michael Ash



This study presents alternative measures of environmental inequality in the 50 U.S. states for exposure to industrial air pollution. We examine three methodological issues. First, to what extent are environmental inequality measures sensitive to spatial scale and population weighting? Second, how do sensitivities to different segments of the overall distribution affect rankings by these measures? Third, how do vertical and horizontal (inter-group) inequality measures relate to each other? We find substantive differences in rankings by different measures and conclude that no single indicator is sufficient for addressing the entire range of equity concerns that are relevant to environmental policy; instead multiple measures are needed.

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