School Location and Toxic Waste: Race, Class, or Collective Efficacy?

Sally S. Simpson, University of Maryland at College Park
Carole Gibbs, University of Maryland at College Park

Environmental justice advocates have argued that discrimination in toxic waste siting has resulted in greater exposure to environmental risks for minorities and the poor than for other groups. However, results from anecdotal and methodologically flawed studies are far from conclusive and it remains unclear whether race and class bias occurs in hazardous waste siting decisions. Using the concept of collective efficacy (Sampson et al., 1997) as the mediating link between race, class, and environmental siting, this study will expand on previous research by examining hazardous waste siting in relation to school location, as well as the surrounding community. Information on schools, such as location, opening date, student body characteristics, surrounding neighborhood characteristics, and collective efficacy, will be obtained from the National Study of Delinquency Prevention in Schools. Toxic hazard data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory and Superfund database will be matched to school geocode areas. Analysis will be conducted to examine race, class, and collective efficacy as competing hypotheses for toxic waste siting.

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Updated 05/20/2006