The effects of eligibility and voluntary participation on the distribution of benefits in environmental programs: an application to green stormwater infrastructure

Daniel A. Brent, Joseph H. Cook and Allison Lassiter


Many cities provide incentives for private landowners to install green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to reduce stormwater runoff and deliver co-benefits of urban greening. We analyze how participation in a GSI subsidy program affects the spatial distribution of urban greening. The distributional effects manifest in two stages: program eligibility and participation decisions. Eligibility, determined by hydrological factors, is positively correlated with wealthier and whiter areas. Within eligible areas, the wealthiest households and least white neighborhoods have lower participation rates. The findings highlight the importance of considering eligibility and participation in balancing the joint goals of environmental quality and environmental justice.

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