UMass Economics Working Papers

Working Paper: Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?

The following working paper by Michael Ash, James K. Boyce, Grace Chang, and Helen Scharber is now available on our website:

Is Environmental Justice Good for White Folks?


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 RiskScreening 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 pollutionexposure 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.


Dube quoted in Time article, “Health Reform: Weighing Up the Employer Mandate”

Arindrajit Dube

San Francisco’s two-year-old mandate requiring employers to boost their health insurance spending has had little impact on their operations, according to an analysis by Arindrajit Dube, economics, and two other economists. (Time, 7/26/10)

Health Reform: Weighing Up the Employer Mandate
July 26, 2010

But at least in San Francisco, where an employer mandate was instituted in 2008, most business owners are embracing the new rule and reporting it’s had little impact on their operations. A new analysis of the city’s mandate, written by three economists, reports that although three-quarters of employers were forced to bump up their health-insurance spending, 64% still support the law. “Employers have found that it’s actually become easier to pay for it than they thought,” says Arindrajit Dube, one of the authors and a labor economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.