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Does the Suburbanization of Poverty lead to more Environmental Equity for the Poor?

Authors: Fabian Terbeck*, University of Connecticut
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Population Geography, Environment
Keywords: Poverty, Suburbanization, Environmental Justice, Environmental Equity, Houston
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the 2000s more people in poverty live in suburbs than inner cities (Kneebone and Berube 2013). Since many suburbs provide a better and safer environment than inner-cities, the suburbanization of poverty can potentially lead to more environmental equity in U.S. metropolitan areas. However, place stratification theory states that particularly minorities who move to suburbs are often forced to settle in neighborhoods with a lower environmental quality (Pais, Crowder and Downey 2014; Parisi 2011; Mennis & Jordan 2005). Drawing on air pollution data from EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), and Flood Plain Data from the Harris County Flood Control District, I determine whether poverty growth in the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area has been associated with with a low environmental quality, which would provide support for the place stratification theory. A modified target density approach is used to enable the comparison of population counts between different census years to provide a measure of how many people in poverty are exposed to air pollution and flood risks.

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