• Residential similarity preference;
  • Environmental justice;
  • Racial parity;
  • Agent-based modeling;
  • Residential choice constraints


In the environmental justice literature, uncertainty exists about the underlying causes of environmental risk disparities, especially as they relate to residential choices. To simplify, the two dominant views are racism/discrimination versus inevitable market dynamics. In this article, we move aside from these to examine the potential role of various residential choice constraints on environmental injustice and how they may be interrelated.


Using an agent-based simulation model, we examine the interaction of race-based constraints with other experimental conditions that can affect minorities’ residential choice sets.


Simulation experiments demonstrate that if the minority holds relatively lower similarity preferences, the environmental quality gap declines when other conditions are held constant. However, racial parity in communities also decreases the environmental quality gap, as do slower population growth and larger geographies.


These results enable us to look at the problem of race-based environmental injustice more holistically, and begin to think about holistic solutions that may finally address what has heretofore been an intractable social problem.