Using inequality measures to incorporate environmental justice into regulatory analyses

Abstract

Formally evaluating how specific policy measures influence environmental justice is challenging, especially in the context of regulatory analyses in which quantitative comparisons are the norm. However, there is a large literature on developing and applying quantitative measures of health inequality in other settings, and these measures may be applicable to environmental regulatory analyses. In this paper, we provide information to assist policy decision makers in determining the viability of using measures of health inequality in the context of environmental regulatory analyses. We conclude that quantification of the distribution of inequalities in health outcomes across social groups of concern, considering both within-group and between-group comparisons, would be consistent with both the structure of regulatory analysis and the core definition of environmental justice. Appropriate application of inequality indicators requires thorough characterization of the baseline distribution of exposures and risks, leveraging data generally available within regulatory analyses. Multiple inequality indicators may be applicable to regulatory analyses, and the choice among indicators should be based on explicit value judgments regarding the dimensions of environmental justice of greatest interest.

Publication
Int J Environ Res Public Health
Sam Harper
Sam Harper
Associate Professor of Epidemiology

My research interests include impact evaluation, reproducible research, and social epidemiology.

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