Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Policy Studies

Committee Member

Lori A Dickes

Committee Member

Kenneth Robinson

Committee Member

Jeffery Allen

Committee Member

Marzieh Motallebi


Environmental justice research has found that poor and minority households are disproportionally exposed to environmental pollution than other groups in the United States. Scholars have used several hypotheses to explain this correlation including pure discrimination among groups by polluters, the location cost considerations of firms, the migratory responses of households to pollution, Coase theorem, and collective action hypotheses. This dissertation analyzes the question of “why the poor and minorities are more exposed to pollution” by testing the location cost and migration hypotheses using data from the state of Georgia. The dissertation also examined gentrification processes and impacts using Greenville, South Carolina as a case study and explores the link between gentrification, homelessness, and environmental justice.The location cost analysis employs a logistic regression model using secondary data at the census tract level on input costs, transportation costs, and firm location cost-related environmental justice factors, and tests the correlation of these factors with the location of toxic facilities. The migration analysis employs a 2-Stage Least Squares model to analyze whether migration explains the disproportionate exposure of poor and minority groups to pollution while the gentrification study employs qualitative interview and focus group methods to understand gentrification processes and impacts. Results show that while location cost explains some of the disproportionate exposure to pollution, migration does not appear to explain why the poor and minorities are more exposed to toxic facilities. In other words, the poor and minorities are not more exposed to toxic facilities because they migrated to live where those toxic facilities are but rather, location costs and other factors explain why these groups are more exposed to pollution.



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