Past Seminar

Ranking Distributions of Environmental Outcomes Across Population Groups

May 16, 2013

About the Event

Ranking Distributions of Environmental Outcomes Across Population Groups
RFF Academic Seminar
Glenn Sheriff,
Economist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This paper proposes a measure, based on the Kolm-Pollack income inequality index, for evaluating distributional impacts of alternative environmental policies across population groups defined by demographic variables such as race, ethnicity, or income. The rich literature devoted to the use of inequality indices for analyzing income distributions within and across countries provides a natural methodological toolbox for examining the distributional effects of environmental outcomes. We show, however, that the most commonly used income inequality indices (e.g., the Atkinson index) have theoretical properties that make them inappropriate for analyzing “bads,” like pollution, as opposed to “goods” like income. In particular, simply replacing income with a bad outcome implies an underlying social welfare function that is decreasing in individual utility. In contrast, we show how the rarely used Kolm-Pollack index is particularly well-suited for ranking distributions of adverse health and environmental outcomes. We provide illustrations of its potential use in the context of emissions trading, vehicle emissions, and indoor air quality.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Lunch will be provided.
7th Floor Conference Room
1616 P St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
All seminars will be in the 7th Floor Conference Room at RFF, 1616 P Street NW. Attendance is open, but involves pre-registration no later than two days prior to the event. For questions and to register to an event, please contact Khadija Hill at (tel. 202-328-5174). Updates to our academic seminars schedule will be posted at