Local exposure to toxic releases: Examining the role of ethnic fractionalization and polarisation

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This paper examines the role played by community characteristics in influencing local exposure to toxic releases, focusing specifically on ethnic fractionalization and polarisation. In contrast to the previous literature, this study argues that it is the fractionalization and/or polarisation of ethnic groups that is the relevant consideration, rather than the population share of ethnic minorities, since such ethnic divisions may significantly increase the difficulty of coordinating community action. Using toxic release data for the periods 1990 to 1995 and 2000 to 2005 we find that measures of ethnic divisions have a positive relationship with toxic releases. This finding persists across a range of robustness exercises.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2013


  • Community characteristics, Environmental justice, Ethnic divisions, Fractionalization, Polarisation, Pollution