Distributional Effects of Air Pollution from Electric Vehicle Adoption


Stephen P. Holland, Erin T. Mansur, Nicholas Z. Muller, and Andrew J. Yates

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, Volume 6, Issue S1, March 2019, Pages S65-S94.
Working Paper, November 2016.
NBER Working Paper 22862, November 2016.
Press Coverage: The Atlantic   



We examine the distributional effects of changes in local air pollution from driving electric vehicles in the United States. We employ an econometric model to estimate power plant emissions and an integrated assessment model to value damages in air pollution from both electric and gasoline vehicles. Using the locations of currently registered electric vehicles, we find that people living in census block groups with median income greater than about $65,000 receive positive environmental benefits from these vehicles while those below this threshold receive negative environmental benefits. Asian and Hispanic residents receive positive environmental benefits, but White and Black residents receive negative environmental benefits. In multivariate analyses, environmental benefits are positively correlated with income and urban measures, conditional on racial composition. In addition, conditional on income and urbanization, separate regressions find environmental benefits to be positively related with Asian and Hispanic block-group population shares, negatively correlated with White share, and uncorrelated with Black share. Environmental benefits tend to be larger in states offering purchase subsidies. However, for these states, an increase in subsidy size is associated with a decrease in created environmental benefits.