Addressing Environmental Justice through In-Kind Court Settlements

This working paper examines the occurrence of in-kind settlements in US environmental justice court cases and their public perception versus cash payments.



May 25, 2023


Pamela Campa and Lucija Muehlenbachs


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


In US environmental court cases, a cash penalty can be mitigated if a defendant volunteers to undertake an in-kind project, such as retrofitting school buses or building a public park. A goal of the policy is to address environmental justice concerns for low-income and minority populations, yet the historical record shows that in-kind settlements are most likely to occur in cases involving high-income, majority-white communities. A choice experiment reveals the public prefers in-kind settlements over cash, and a randomized survey reveals that in-kind settlements improve the public’s view of a violating firm, consistent with our finding of positive stock-market reactions to in-kind settlements.


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