The Beneficiaries of Clean Air Act Regulation

5 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2001

See all articles by Matthew E. Kahn

Matthew E. Kahn

University of Southern California; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)


We know that the "average" person has experienced a decrease in air pollution levels over the past two decades, but we do not know much about the distributional effects of regulation-induced reduction. Have the poor, as well as the wealthy, significantly reduced their exposure to pollutants? Are minorities paying the cost for these regulations as pollution-intensive industries cut their workforce or move away? In California between 1980 and 1998, Hispanic pollution exposure fell sharply and exposure differentials between richer and poorer people fell sharply. In 1998, only particulate matter exposure is much higher for the poor in comparison with the wealthy. Given the overall trend in improvements for certain demographic groups, it appears that regulation under the Clean Air Act has helped, and not economically harmed, the "have nots."

Suggested Citation

Kahn, Matthew E., The Beneficiaries of Clean Air Act Regulation. Regulation Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 1. Available at SSRN: or

Matthew E. Kahn (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

2250 Alcazar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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