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Working Paper Number CARRA-WP-2017-04
John Voorheis

Abstract

A vast empirical literature has convincingly shown that there is pervasive cross-sectional inequality in exposure to environmental hazards. However, less is known about how these inequalities have been evolving over time. I fill this gap by creating a new dataset, which combines satellite data on ground-level concentrations of fine particulate matter with linked administrative and survey data. This linked dataset allows me to measure individual pollution exposure for over 100 million individuals in each year between 2000 and 2014, a period of time has seen substantial improvements in average air quality. This rich dataset can then be used to analyze longitudinal dimensions of environmental inequality by examining the distribution of changes in individual pollution exposure that underlie these aggregate improvements. I confirm previous findings that cross-sectional environmental inequality has been on the decline, but I argue that this may miss longitudinal patterns in exposure that are consistent with environmental gentrification. I find that advantaged individuals at the beginning of the sample experience larger pollution exposure reductions than do initially disadvantaged individuals.

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