By Lara Cushing, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Madeline Wander, and Manuel Pastor
Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).
A growing body of literature suggests that more unequal societies have more polluted and degraded environments, perhaps helping explain why more unequal societies are often less healthy. We summarize the mechanisms by which inequality can lead to environmental degradation and their relevance for public health. We review the evidence of a relationship between environmental quality and social inequality along the axes of income, wealth, political power, and race and ethnicity. Our review suggests that the evidence is strongest for air- and water-quality measures that have more immediate health implications; evidence is less strong for more dispersed pollutants that have longer-term health impacts. More attention should be paid in research and in practice to links among inequality, the environment, and health, including more within-country studies that may elucidate causal pathways and points of intervention. We synthesize common metrics of inequality and methodological considerations in an effort to bring cohesion to such efforts.
Read our other publications by research area
Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice
Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.
Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity
In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.
Social Movements & Governing Power
ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.
In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).
The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.