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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2016 TOPIC AREA: Sustainability, energy, and health CENTER: MetroFreight

A longitudinal analysis of environmental justice in warehousing location

Project Summary

Compared to other locally undesirable land uses, warehouses and distribution centers are more land intensive, but local residents might be less sensible to the environmental impacts associated with warehousing activities. Therefore I hypothesize that environmental injustice in warehousing location is more of a “pre-selection” issue instead of a “post-effects” issue. It is more likely that warehouse developers choose to locate their facilities in areas with low land rents and political awareness, where coincidentally disadvantaged population concentrate. However, the existence of warehouses does not necessarily lead to a further influx of disadvantaged population.

Using the data of Los Angeles Metropolitan Area in 2000 and 2010, this study has two major objectives. First, it tests whether neighborhoods with higher percentages of poor or minority people would have higher probability of being the targets of warehousing development, with other factors controlled. Second, it tests whether the percentages of poor or minority people in a neighborhood would increase after warehouses are sited in close vicinity, with other factors controlled. The results show that compared to medium level income white-dominant neighborhoods, warehouses are more likely to be sited in medium level income minority-dominant neighborhoods. However, there is no such tendency for other groups of neighborhoods. On the other hand, after warehouses are located, the percentages of poor or minority population in the hosting neighborhoods do not significantly increase. Instead, demographic churning (sum of absolute changes in the percentages of different races) is stronger in neighborhoods with recent warehousing development.

This research could help policy makers and planners better understand the issue of environmental justice in the warehousing development. By disentangling the two interdependent processes, the research can inform us how we can make efforts to mitigate the disproportionate environmental burden on disadvantaged population.



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  4. Pastor, M., Sadd, J., & Hipp, J. (2001). Which came first? Toxic facilities, minority move-in, and environmental justice. Journal of Urban Affairs, 23(1), 1-21.
  5. Shaikh, S. L., & Loomis, J. B. (1999). An investigation into the presence and causes of environmental inequity in Denver, Colorado. The Social Science Journal, 36(1), 77-92.



Genevieve Giuliano
Professor; Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government; Senior Associate Dean for Research and Technology; Director, METRANS , Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 216Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]


Quan Yuan
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of City and Regional Planning
New East Building
CB #3140Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3140
United States
[email protected]