Poverty is a major determinant for pollution exposure, according to the US location choice literature. In this paper, we assess the impact of socioeconomic status on location choices in the European context. Our analysis relies on an original dataset of 1194 households living in polluted and non-polluted areas in three European countries: Spain, Portugal, and France. We use instrumental variables strategies to identify the socioeconomic causes of location choices. We show that low education, wealth, and income are main reasons for living in polluted areas. We provide several robustness checks testing for the exogeneity of selected instruments. We observe that unobserved heterogeneity tends to understate the impact of socioeconomic status on residence location. Interestingly, we highlight that an important proportion of intermediate social groups (especially young couples) are living in polluted areas, probably because of place attachment and affordable housing facilities. Similarly, we show that middle-income households have lower move-out intentions than other income groups. These latter results contrast the linear vision of environmental inequalities found in the USA.
Why Do People Continue to Live Near Polluted Sites? Empirical Evidence from Southwestern Europe
28 April 2021