Zhonghua Jin

Document Type


Date of Award



Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs (SOPA)

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Environmental Policy

Committee Chairperson

Qisheng Pan

Committee Member 1

Lalita Sen

Committee Member 2

Earthea Nance, Yi Qi


air pollution, environmental policies, housing prices, population distribution, urban centers


Air pollution has been considered as an influential environmental factor affecting both local government policies and the general public’s decisions on housing within large metropolitan areas. In the past few decades, the United States achieved excellent results on a large scale. However, in some major industrial metropolitan areas, air pollution still stays at relatively high levels. In related environmental studies, environmental justice is often emphasized to eliminate or mitigate social imbalance among urban communities. However, fewer studies have adopted quantitative methods to assess the effectiveness of existing environmental policies. Taking the Houston region as an empirical case, this study examines the impact of air pollution on local housing prices and racial distributions, as well as the impact of regional environmental protection policies on local housing prices. This study adopts the Hedonic price model and employs housing prices in the Houston area to quantify the impact of urban ozone pollution on local communities and populations, as well as to test the responses of housing prices to governmental environmental policies. First, it finds that housing prices in Harris County are negatively correlated with house age, and positively correlated with variables such as floor area, school district quality, transportation accessibility, and household incomes, which are consistent with the general principles of urban economics. Second, accessibility analysis shows that housing prices are inversely related to the urban centers, which reflects the spatial pattern of urban development in the United States. In addition, this study finds that air pollution has an unbalanced impact on the urban communities where ethnic minorities concentrate. Finally, the evaluation of the environmental standards released by the EPA in three different years (1997, 2008, and 2015) shows that the environmental policies have two major impacts. First, the policies have lagged effects on housing prices; second, the implementation of the new environmental policies, in general, there has significant positive effects on local housing prices. This study explores the relationship between air pollution and the housing market in the Houston area, and in-depth discusses the effectiveness of local environmental policies.


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