Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title

The Social Science Journal

Publication Date

9-10-2018

Publisher

Elsevier

Volume

56

Issue

1

First Page

1

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Last Page

33

Abstract

Environmental consequences are frequently cited as a justification for restricting immigration to the United States, but there is little empirical research on the environmental consequences of immigration to support such arguments. The research that does exist shows immigration to be less environmentally harmful than native population growth, but is hampered by small samples and fails to account for spatial autocorrelation of air quality. We use the air quality domain of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Index (EQI) to examine the association between immigrant and native populations and local air quality across all counties in the continental U.S. We employ spatial models to account for spatial autocorrelation of air quality across the counties, controlling for indicators of economic development and location characteristics. We find that native population is strongly associated with worse air quality, while foreign-born population is associated with better air quality. However, this association varies by immigrant country of origin, with East Asian immigrants in particular associated with worse air quality, and by immigrants’ year of entry, with some immigration cohorts positively associated with air quality, and others negatively. These findings highlight the importance of population characteristics in understanding population-environment linkages.

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