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Traffic Noise in Georgia: Sound Levels and Inequality

Using Lorenz-type curves, means tests, ordinary least squares, and locally weighted regressions (LWR), we examine the relative burdens of whites, blacks, and Hispanics in Georgia from road and air traffic noise. We find that whites bear less noise than either blacks or Hispanics and that blacks tend to experience more traffic noise than Hispanics. While every Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) showed that blacks experienced relatively more noise than average, such a result did not hold for Hispanics in roughly half of the MSAs. We find much heterogeneity across Census tracts using LWR. For most Census tracts, higher black and Hispanic population shares are associated with increased noise. However, 5.5 percent of the coefficients for blacks and 18.9 percent for Hispanics suggest larger population shares are associated with less noise. The noise LWR marginal effects for black populations across most tracts in the state are consistent with diminishing marginal noise from additional black population, while those in Atlanta exhibit diminishing marginal noise for Hispanics. In many regions of the state where the potential for health-damaging noise exists, we find relatively high disproportionality in noise experienced by the black and Hispanic populations compared to the rest of the overall population. Our findings underscore the importance of using nonparametric estimation approaches to unveil spatial heterogeneity in applied urban and housing economics analyses.

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https://doi.org/10.20955/wp.2019.004


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