Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and Systemic Racism

A working paper examining the impacts of systemic racism on the field of environmental and resource economics, and what researchers can address the problem.



March 29, 2023


Working Paper

Reading time

1 minute


This paper highlights some ways in which scholarly work in environmental and natural resource (ENRE) economics may be affected by and unintentionally further racial inequity. We discuss four channels through which these effects may occur: (1) prioritization of efficiency over distribution, (2) inattention to procedural justice, (3) abstraction from crucial historical or social contexts, and (4) a narrow focus on problems perceived as tractable. We offer specific examples of how racial inequity may be furthered by work in the field through welfare and valuation methods, policy modeling choices, and treatment of the commons. We document opportunities to improve the field by better considering how racial inequity may affect and be affected by ENRE analysis. ENRE scholars have tools that can mitigate systemic racism in access to natural resources and a clean environment, but work must be done to realize that potential.


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