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Environmental justice and inequality in Europe

Final Activity Report Summary - ENJINE (Environmental Justice and Inequality in Europe)

Economic and social cohesion is an expression of solidarity between the Member States and regions of the European Union. The aim is balanced development throughout the EU, reducing structural disparities between regions and promoting equal opportunities for all.

Initially, the research project ENJINE aimed to assess the spatial distribution of environmental characteristics in Europe, with Italy and the Netherlands as case studies. Following the literature review, results have shown that the methodologies used in the existing literature on environmental inequality need to be complemented. In particular, the scientific approach to the issue of environmental inequalities has been so far mostly descriptive. The review shows that it is not only the distribution of environmental characteristics that needs to be investigated, but also the behaviour of the agents who live in and interact with such an environment and make everyday's decisions. The results of my review showed that a good agenda for building a better environment in Europe, should not only include factors connected to the physical environment, but also factors connected to the social environment, which is among the main factors able to increase the level of social cohesion among European citizens.

The second most important objective of my project was to investigate economic and spatial inequalities at the regional level, using the Netherlands and Italy as case studies. We applied spatial data analysis to study the extent to which economic activity is concentrated or dispersed across region. As an alternative approach, the impact of physical environment has been investigated for the Netherlands. Using the hedonic house pricing approach, a study has been conducted to assess the impact that environmental characteristics have on households' decisions to buy a dwelling. Preliminary results show that purchasers of higher-priced homes value certain housing characteristics differently from buyers of lower-priced homes.

The third objective was to extend the study to the whole European area and to study economic and social inequalities across regions at the NUTS 2 level. As the main goal of the Lisbon agenda is to make Europe' the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment', I investigated the spatial distribution of innovation across European regions. Spatial effects have been taken into account using the appropriate estimation framework. A second study has been performed, which aimed at shading some light on the link between innovation, the density of economic activities and growth. By using data from the European Values Study, I constructed a measure of cultural and social characteristics able to explain the extent to which agglomeration economies impact innovation performance. Preliminary results showed that the higher the endowment of territorial capital, the stronger the impact of density on innovation.