For over thirty years, environmental justice has been a thriving research field in the United States. However, until recently, similar research has neither been conducted for most European countries nor for the European Union as a whole.


Until recently, disaggregated databases on environmental quality were not available for most European countries and no consistent databases existed for the European Union as a whole. This project aims at closing this gap. While pioneer European studies on environmental justice so far have only provided country or regional case studies, this project also conducts the first empirical analysis of environmental justice for the EU.

IIASA Research

Numerous empirical studies have highlighted large and persistent disparities in environmental quality by race/ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and other socioeconomic factors. The establishment of the research field was accompanied by steadily improving data quality, allowing us to measure environmental and population data at an increasingly fine spatial disaggregation. Over the last decade, strong improvements in data availability have made it possible to extend analyses of environmental justice to the EU. 

This project outlines several research directions:

  1. Analysis of regional disparities in environmental quality in the EU,
  2. Identification of industrial air pollution “hot spots” and their socio-demographic correlates,
  3. Analysis of nation-wide air pollution exposure inequalities in Austria, and
  4. Investigation of distributional effects of environmental policies in Europe.

The analysis is based on unique spatially defined economic, environmental, and demographic datasets at the NUTS 2 level in the EU.