How Selective Migration Shapes Environmental Inequality in Germany: Evidence from Micro-level Panel Data

Henning Best, Tobias Rüttenauer
European Sociological Review, Oxford University Press
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Socio-economically disadvantaged and ethnic minorities are affected by a disproportionately high exposure to environmental pollution. Yet, it is unclear if selective migration causes this disproportionate exposure experienced by low-income and minority households. The study uses longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to investigate the process of selective migration and its connection to the perceived exposure to air pollution in Germany. Consistent with the selective migration argument, movers experience a decrease in exposure according to their income, while stationary households do not experience a reductive effect due to income. Furthermore, the moving returns differ by minority status. While native German households experience less exposure to pollution when moving to a new place of residence, minority households do not. Additional analyses show that this minority effect cannot be explained by socio-economic differences, but completely vanishes in the second immigrant generation.