Community characterisitcs and industrial toxic releases in the United States

Khemmarat, Khemrutai (2010). Community characterisitcs and industrial toxic releases in the United States. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores the empirical relationship between community characteristics and the amount of chemical releases from local industrial facilities for all 50 states of the US. We concentrate primarily on the effects of ethnic composition and the degree of ethnic diversity within a community. The effect of ethnic composition is captured by the share of each ethnic group within a community. The degree of ethnic diversity is measured by two indices: the fractionalization and polarization index. Our empirical results provide a number of interesting findings. First, there is inconsistent evidence in support of the effect of ethnic composition on chemical releases in 1991-1995 at the zip code level. However, we find that the amount of releases is related with the potential of a community’s collective action to pressurize polluters. Second, we show that local facilities’ environmental performance is not only influenced by the ethnic composition of a community but also by the ethnic diversity of local residents. We argue that ethnic heterogeneity makes it more difficult for members of a community to cooperate and instigate a collective action to protest local polluting facilities. Our estimated results confirm that chemical releases during the period of 1991-1995 increase in a more ethnically diverse communities. Third, our results suggest that differences in toxicity among chemicals should be taken into account when investigating the effect of community characteristics on chemical releases from local facilities. Our findings also confirm the effects of ethnic composition and ethnic diversity in determining chemical releases in 2001-2005 at a county level. However, such findings are subject to regional differences and the choice of chemicals included in the analysis.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: Birmingham Business School, Department of Economics
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance


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