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Spatial Scale and Population Assignment Choices in Environmental Justice Analyses

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Environmental justice laws protect certain populations against discriminatory actions that may result from a myriad of enterprises, including transportation activities. Previous environmental equity studies examining the effects of transportation-engendered externalities have been criticized on several points, including (1) that the choice of a reference population for comparison to the criterion variable may influence the outcome of research results and (2) that the selection and use of inappropriate methodologies intended to identify and characterize populations may foreordain research outcomes. This article examines the potentially confounding effects of selected spatial scale and population assignment strategies as applied to a study of excessive noise levels at a large Midwestern airport, finding that reported outcomes can vary significantly as a function of methodological choices.
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Keywords: airport noise; environmental equity; environmental justice; geographic information systems; transportation externalities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Southern Illinois University 2: McGill University and Southern Illinois University

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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