Gender, Ethnicity and Environmental Risk Perception Revisited: The Importance of Residential Location

J Community Health, 31 March 2015

Studies in the U.S. have found that white men are less concerned about pollution than are women or people of other ethnicity. These studies have not assessed respondents’ proximity to localized sources of pollution. Our objective was to assess lay perceptions of risk from air pollution in an ethnically diverse sample in which proximity to a major perceptible source of pollution is known. Cross sectional interview study of combined area probability and convenience sample of individuals 40 and older in the Boston area, selected according to proximity to high traffic controlled access highways. Of 697 respondents 46 % were white, 37 % Asian (mostly Chinese), 6.3 % African-American, 6.3 % Latino, and 7.6 % other ethnicity. While white respondents, and particularly white men, were less concerned about air pollution than others, this effect disappeared when controlling for distance from the highway. White men were slightly less supportive than others of government policy to control pollution. The “white male” effect may in part be accounted for by the greater likelihood of minority respondents to live near perceptible localized sources of pollution. Read more.