Residential Mobility, Brownfield Remediation and Environmental Gentrification in Chicago

Richard T. Melstrom and Rose Mohammadi


We examine whether moving behavior contributes to the correlation between race and pollution using a residential sorting model and data on neighborhood demographics in Chicago. We find that black residents are less likely to stay and thus more likely to be displaced compared with white residents in neighborhoods after brownfields are cleaned up, contributing to environmental gentrification. This provides evidence that race and pollution become increasingly correlated because of moving behavior, with people of color less likely to move toward cleaner neighborhoods. Cleaning up pollution without a policy that acknowledges residential mobility may thus fail to correct environmental injustice.

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