What Caused Racial Disparities in Particulate Exposure to Fall? New Evidence from the Clean Air Act and Satellite-Based Measures of Air Quality

52 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020 Last revised: 9 Jun 2021

See all articles by Janet Currie

Janet Currie

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

John Voorheis

University of Oregon - Department of Economics

Reed Walker

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Racial differences in exposure to ambient air pollution have declined significantly in the United States over the past 20 years. This project links administrative Census microdata to newly available, spatially continuous high resolution measures of ambient particulate pollution (PM2.5) to examine the underlying causes and consequences of differences in Black-White pollution exposures. We begin by decomposing differences in pollution exposure into components explained by observable population characteristics (e.g., income) versus those that remain unexplained. We then use quantile regression methods to show that a significant portion of the “unexplained” convergence in Black-White pollution exposure can be attributed to differential impacts of the Clean Air Act (CAA) in African American and non-Hispanic White communities. Areas with larger Black populations saw greater CAA-related declines in PM2.5 exposure. We show that the CAA has been the single largest contributor to racial convergence in PM2.5 pollution exposure in the U.S. since 2000 accounting for over 60 percent of the reduction.

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Suggested Citation

Currie, Janet and Voorheis, John and Walker, Reed, What Caused Racial Disparities in Particulate Exposure to Fall? New Evidence from the Clean Air Act and Satellite-Based Measures of Air Quality (January 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26659, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522308

Janet Currie (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
6092587393 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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John Voorheis

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.uoregon.edu/jlv

Reed Walker

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/rwalker/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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