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The Political Economy of Environmental Justice

  • Spencer Banzhaf
  • The environmental justice literature convincingly shows that poor people and minorities live in more polluted neighborhoods than do other groups. These findings have sparked a broad activist movement, numerous local lawsuits, and several federal policy reforms.

    Despite the importance of environmental justice, the topic has received little attention from economists. And yet, economists have much to contribute, as several explanations for the correlation between pollution and marginalized citizens rely on market mechanisms. Understanding the role of these mechanisms is crucial to designing policy remedies, for each lends itself to a different interpretation to the locus of injustices. Moreover, the different mechanisms have varied implications for the efficacy of policy responses—and who gains and loses from them.

    In the first book-length examination of environmental justice from the perspective of economics, a cast of top contributors evaluates why underprivileged citizens are overexposed to toxic environments and what policy can do to help. While the text engages economic methods, it is written for an interdisciplinary audience.

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    “This volume is vital reading to scholars with an interest in understanding the link between policies to address environmental problems and their outcomes. This book will be helpful to policymakers with an interest in improving the lives of those who are currently exposed to disproportionate effects from pollution.”
    — James T. Hamilton
    Duke University and author of Regulation Through Revelation

    “This is an excellent book to introduce readers to the complexities of trying to uncover causal effects in the realm of environmental justice.”
    — Janet E. Kohlhase
    University of Houston

    Written By
    • Spencer Banzhaf
      Spencer Banzhaf
      • Senior Fellow

      Spencer Banzhaf is a PERC senior fellow and director of the Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy at North Carolina State University.

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