Lower income groups live in worse environmental conditions
On average, people with lower incomes live in worse environmental conditions (incl. traffic noise and air pollution) and in considerably less green living environments than people with higher incomes. That is the conclusion of environmental scientist Hanneke Kruize in her dissertation 'On environmental equity, Exploring the distribution of environmental quality among socio-economic categories in the Netherlands'. Kruize earned her PhD at the University of Utrecht on 29 August.
Dr. Kruize analysed the distribution of environmental quality among the various social groups based on quantitative national data files. The analysis was performed based on several environmental indicators, including traffic noise, external safety, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and the availability of greenspaces near the residences. The scale of the research was limited to six-figurepostal code areas.
- The government follows an environmental policy that is the same for the entire Dutch population, trying to protect everyone equally well against unhealthy and unsafe situations through environmental norms;
- The government generally does not consider what the consequences of the planned policy and policy measures will be for the environmental circumstances of the various income groups;
- Schiphol Airport and the harbour of Rotterdam have different regulations for sound and risk norms and Rotterdam is subject to the seaport norm. These differences make it seem as though national economic interests take precedence over local interests;
- There are no legal norms for positive environmental qualities such as quiet and green spaces;
- The increased role of market forces and reduced government regulation increases the differences in environmental quality in the living environments of different social-economic groups;
- Persons with lower incomes are more exposed to higher noise levels due to rail traffic than those with higher incomes;
- In the research areas Rijnmond and Schiphol, however, the higher income groups were exposed to slightly higher noise level;
- People with lower incomes often have to deal with multiple environmental problems due to excess noise and air pollution (the so-called stacked environmental problems) than people with higher incomes. This is the case in the area around Schiphol;
- When it comes to stacking positive environmental qualities, such as greenspaces and quiet, the differences between income groups are clearly to the advantage of the higher incomes in the Netherlands.
University of Utrecht, Copernicus Institute for Sustainable
Development and Innovation
Royal Dutch Geographical Society
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