Environmental Economics Seminar
East side story: historical pollution and the structure of cities”
Assistant Professor at the university of Bristol
Abstract: Why are the east sides of formerly industrial cities more deprived? To answer this question, we use individual-level census data and create historical pollution patterns derived from the locations of 5,000 industrial chimneys and an atmospheric model. We show that this observation results from path dependent neighborhood sorting that began during the Industrial Revolution as prevailing winds blew pollution eastwards. Past pollution explains up to 20% of the observed neighborhood segregation in 2011, even though coal pollution stopped in the 1970s. We shed light on the mechanisms underlying this persistence, and we discuss one interesting, yet counter-intuitive, finding: cities tend to grow towards their bad sides, amplifying the inequality in exposure to disamenities.
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