Abstract

The number of studies examining racial and socioeconomic disparities in the geographic distribution of environmental hazards and locally unwanted land uses has grown considerably over the past decade. Most studies have found statistically significant racial and socioeconomic disparities associated with hazardous sites. However, there is considerable variation in the magnitude of racial and socioeconomic disparities found; indeed, some studies have found none. Uncertainties also exist about the underlying causes of the disparities. Many of these uncertainties can be attributed to the failure of the most widely used method for assessing environmental disparities to adequately account for proximity between the hazard under investigation and nearby residential populations. In this article, we identify the reasons for and consequences of this failure and demonstrate ways of overcoming these shortcomings by using alternate, distance-based methods. Through the application of such methods, we show how assessments about the magnitude and causes of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the distribution of hazardous sites are changed. In addition to research on environmental inequality, we discuss how distance-based methods can be usefully applied to other areas of demographic research that explore the effects of neighborhood context on a range of social outcomes.

This content is only available as a PDF.

References

References
Anderton, D.L., Anderson, A.B., Oakes, J.M., & Fraser, M.R. (
1994
).
Environmental Equity: The Demographics of Dumping
.
Demography
,
31
,
229
48
. 10.2307/2061884
Anderton, D.L., Oakes, J.M., & Egan, K.L. (
1997
).
Environmental Equity in Superfund: Demographics of the Discovery and Prioritization of Abandoned Toxic Sites
.
Evaluation Review
,
21
(
1
),
3
26
. 10.1177/0193841X9702100101
Barrett, A.L., Oropesa, R.S., & Kanan, J.W. (
1994
).
Neighborhood Context and Residential Mobility
.
Demography
,
31
,
249
70
. 10.2307/2061885
Been, V. (
1995
).
Analyzing Evidence of Environmental Justice
.
Journal of Land Use and Law
,
11
(
1
),
1
36
.
Been, V., & Gupta, F. (
1997
).
Coming to the Nuisance or Going to the Barrios? A Longitudinal Analysis of Environmental Justice Claims
.
Ecology Law Quarterly
,
24
,
1
56
.
Boer, J.T., Pastor, M., Sadd, J.L., & Snyder, L.D. (
1997
).
Is There Environmental Racism? The Demographics of Hazardous Waste in Los Angeles
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
78
,
793
810
.
Bowen, W.M., Salling, M.J., Haynes, K.E., & Cyran, E.J. (
1995
).
Toward Environmental Justice: Spatial Equity in Ohio and Cleveland
.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
,
85
,
641
63
. 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1995.tb01818.x
Chakraborty, J., & Armstrong, M.P. (
1997
).
Exploring the Use of Buffer Analysis for the Identification of Impacted Areas in Environmental Equity Assessment
.
Cartography and Geographic Information Systems
,
24
,
145
57
. 10.1559/152304097782476951
Toxic Waste and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities With Hazardous Waste Sites
. (
1987
).
New York
:
United Church of Christ
.
Daniels, G., & Friedman, S. (
1999
).
Spatial Inequality and the Distribution of Industrial Toxic Releases: Evidence From the 1990 TRI
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
80
,
244
62
.
Davidson, P., & Anderton, D.L. (
2000
).
The Demographics of Dumping II: Survey of the Distribution of Hazardous Materials Handlers
.
Demography
,
37
,
461
66
. 10.1353/dem.2000.0002
Ford, J.M., & Beveridge, A.A. (
2004
).
‘Bad’ Neighborhoods, Fast Food, ‘Sleazy’ Businesses, and Drug Dealers: Relations Between the Location of Licit and Illicit Businesses in the Urban Environment
.
Journal of Drug Issues
,
34
(
1
),
51
76
. 10.1177/002204260403400103
StreetCD 98 [Digital data files on CD-ROM] (1990 TIGER Files)
. (
1999
).
New Brunswick, NJ
:
Author [producer and distributor]
.
Glickman, T. (
1994
).
Measuring Environmental Equity With GIS
.
Renewable Resources Journal
,
12
(
3
),
17
21
.
Glickman, T.S., Golding, D., & Hersh, R. (
1995
).
GIS-Based Environmental Equity Analysis—A Case Study of TRI Facilities in the Pittsburgh Area
. In G.E.G. Beroggi, & W.A. Wallace (Eds.),
Computer Supported Risk Management
(pp.
95
114
).
Dordrecht, Netherlands
:
Kluwer Academic
.
Goldman, B.A., & Fitton, L. (
1994
).
Toxic Wastes and Race Revisited: An Update of the 1987 Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities With Hazardous Waste Sites
.
Washington, DC
:
Center for Policy Alternatives
.
Greenberg, M. (
1993
).
Proving Environmental Inequity in Siting Locally Unwanted Land Uses
.
Risk: Issues in Health and Safety
,
Summer
,
235
52
.
Hamilton, J.T. (
1993
).
Politics and Social Costs: Estimating the Impact of Collective Action on Hazardous Waste Sites
.
Rand Journal of Economics
,
24
,
101
25
. 10.2307/2555955
Hamilton, J.T. (
1995
).
Testing for Environmental Racism: Prejudice, Profits, Political Power?
.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
,
14
(
1
),
107
32
. 10.2307/3325435
Hamilton, J.T., & Viscusi, W.K. (
1999
).
Calculating Risks? The Spatial and Political Dimensions of Hazardous Waste Policy
.
Cambridge, MA
:
MIT Press
.
Hird, J.A. (
1993
).
Environmental Policy and Equity: The Case of Superfund
.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
,
12
,
323
43
. 10.2307/3325238
Hird, J.A., & Reese, M. (
1998
).
The Distribution of Environmental Quality: An Empirical Analysis
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
79
,
694
716
.
Lester, J.P., Allen, D.W., & Hill, K.M. (
2001
).
Environmental Injustice in the United States: Myths and Realities
.
Boulder, CO
:
Westview Press
.
McMaster, R.B., Leitner, H., & Sheppard, E. (
1997
).
GIS-Based Environmental Equity and Risk Assessment: Methodological Problems and Prospects
.
Cartography and Geographic Information Systems
,
24
,
172
89
. 10.1559/152304097782476933
McNulty, T.L., & Holloway, S.R. (
2000
).
Race, Crime, and Public Housing in Atlanta: Testing a Conditional Effect Hypothesis
.
Social Forces
,
79
,
707
29
.
Mohai, P., & Bryant, B. (
1992
).
Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence
. In B. Bryant, & P. Mohai (Eds.),
Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse
(pp.
163
76
).
Boulder, CO
:
Westview Press
.
Oakes, J.M., Anderton, D.L., & Anderson, A.B. (
1996
).
A Longitudinal Analysis of Environmental Equity in Communities With Hazardous Waste Facilities
.
Social Science Research
,
25
,
125
48
. 10.1006/ssre.1996.0006
Pastor, M., Sadd, J., & Hipp, J. (
2001
).
Which Came First? Toxic Facilities, Minority Move-In, and Environmental Justice
.
Journal of Urban Affairs
,
23
,
1
21
. 10.1111/0735-2166.00072
Pastor, M., Sadd, J., & Morello-Frosch, R. (
2004
).
Waiting to Inhale: The Demographics of Toxic Air Release Facilities in 21st-Century California
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
85
,
420
40
. 10.1111/j.0038-4941.2004.08502010.x
Perlin, S.R., Setzer, W., Creason, J., & Sexton, K. (
1995
).
Distribution of Industrial Air Emissions by Income and Race in the U.S.
.
Environmental Science & Technology
,
29
,
69
80
. 10.1021/es00001a008
Pollock, P.H., & Vittas, M.E. (
1995
).
Who Bears the Burdens of Environmental Pollution? Race, Ethnicity, and Environmental Equity in Florida
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
76
,
294
310
.
Ringquist, E.J. (
1997
).
Equity and the Distribution of Environmental Risk: The Case of TRI Facilities
.
Social Science Quarterly
,
78
,
811
29
.
Ringquist, E.J. (
2005
).
Assessing Evidence of Environmental Inequities: A Meta-Analysis
.
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
,
24
,
223
47
. 10.1002/pam.20088
Saha, R., & Mohai, P. (
2005
).
Historical Context and Hazardous Waste Facility Siting: Understanding Temporal Patterns in Michigan
.
Social Problems
,
52
,
618
48
. 10.1525/sp.2005.52.4.618
Sampson, R.J., Morenoff, J.D., & Gannon-Bowley, T. (
2002
).
Assessing ‘Neighborhood Effects’: Social Processes and New Directions in Research
.
Annual Review of Sociology
,
28
,
443
78
. 10.1146/annurev.soc.28.110601.141114
Scribner, R.A., Cohen, D.A., & Farley, T.A. (
1998
).
A Geographic Relation Between Alcohol Availability, and Gonorrhea Rates
.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
,
25
,
544
48
. 10.1097/00007435-199811000-00009
Sheppard, E., Leitner, H., McMaster, R.B., & Tian, H. (
1999
).
GIS-Based Measures of Environmental Equity: Exploring Their Sensitivity and Significance
.
Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology
,
9
,
18
28
. 10.1038/sj.jea.7500023
1990 Census of Population and Housing. Summary Tape Files 1A and 3A [Computer file on CD-ROM]
. (
1994
).
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Bureau of the Census [producer]
.
Zimmerman, R. (
1993
).
Social Equity and Environmental Risk
.
Risk Analysis
,
13
,
649
66
. 10.1111/j.1539-6924.1993.tb01327.x