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Do Legacy Industrial Sites Produce Legacy Effects in Ethnic and Racial Residential Settlement? Environmental Inequality Formation in Rhode Island’s Industrial Core1

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Sociological Forum

Published online on

Abstract

["\nThis study advances understanding of environmental inequality by examining its production through the interaction of two ubiquitous and ongoing urban‐ecological processes: industrial land‐use changes and changing patterns of residential segregation. We employ longitudinal data from the Rhode Island Directory of Manufacturers (1953–2012) and tract‐level US Census data measured at four panel‐years (1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010) to study the effects of these interactions in Rhode Island’s historical industrial cities of Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls. Spatial patterning analysis and hybrid spatial panel modeling of residential exposure to active and legacy industrial sites in relation to ongoing racial and industrial change reveal two novel findings. First, we find a “legacy effect,” suggesting that the spatial organization of industrial activities prior to the study period has measurable impacts on patterns of residential segregation in later decades. Our results also indicate that over the study period Latinx and African‐American residents have become increasingly less likely to bear disproportionate impacts of active manufacturing sites, despite very different spatial patterns of population growth. This is strong evidence that environmental inequality formation is a variable process in which historically distinct pathways can lead to similarly disproportionate exposure to environmental risk.\n", "Sociological Forum, EarlyView. "]