Environmental justice and the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from New York State

Ruohao Zhang, Huan Li, Neha Khanna, Environmental justice and the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from New York State, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management Volume 110, October 2021, 102554

Abstract

The decline in human mobility and socioeconomic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by reports of significant improvements in air quality. We evaluate whether there was a uniform improvement in air quality across neighborhoods, with a special attention on differences by race. We focus on the COVID-19 lockdown in New York State, an early epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Using a triple difference-in-differences model, we find that, despite the seasonal decline in particulate matter pollution starting late March (concurrent with the lockdown period), the lockdown narrowed the disparity in air quality between census tracts with high and low shares of non-white population in rural New York, whereas the racial gap in air quality remained unchanged in urban New York.

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