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Three Measures of Environmental Inequality

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Using data on industrial air pollution exposure in the United States, we compute three measures of environmental inequality: the Gini coefficient of exposure, the ratio of median exposure of minorities to that of non-Hispanic whites, and the ratio of median exposure of poor households to that of nonpoor households.

Comparing inequalities in states and Congressional districts, we find that relative rankings by the three measures vary considerably. We conclude that different measures of environmental inequality may be appropriate for different analytical purposes.