Mapping and explaining ethnic environmental inequality in Germany

Streaming Media


Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University

Event Title

Sociology Seminar Series 2023-2024

Document Type

Public Seminar




11:00 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m.


LYH 310, Lau Lee Yuen Haan Amenities Building


Harmful environmental influences such as air and water pollution or a lack of natural environments are major causes of illness and premature death and disproportionately affect disadvantaged and marginalized groups. The first part of the talk shows that environmental inequalities in Germany are structured much more strongly by citizenship than by income and that high spatial granularity is important for detecting the full extent of environmental inequalities. The second and main part of the talk zeroes in on the social mechanisms driving ethno-environmental segregation and on the role of residential preferences in particular. We use a unique conjoint survey experiment to show that individuals with and without immigrant origins have similarly strong preferences for avoiding exposure to traffic and industry and for living close to green spaces. While this speaks against a direct role of environmental preferences in shaping ethnic environmental inequality, simulations of moving behavior calibrated using the survey experimental results suggest an important indirect contribution. More specifically, we demonstrate how pre-existing ethno-environmental segregation is reproduced and perpetuated by a) the tendency of natives to avoid ethnically heterogeneous neighborhoods and b) by a universal preference for living close to family and friends.



Additional Information


Prof. Dr. Jan Paul Heisig is head of the research group “Health and Social Inequality” at WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Professor of Sociology at Freie Universität Berlin, and principal investigator of the new Einstein Center “Population Diversity”. He obtained his doctorate in sociology at Freie Universität Berlin in 2013 and has been a visitor at Stanford University and the University of Amsterdam. He works on a broad range of topics in the areas of social inequality and quantitative methods. Current projects focus on cross-national and regional variation in health inequalities, environmental inequality, discrimination in health care, labor market returns to education, and multilevel modeling. Recent articles have appeared in journals such as American Sociological Review, British Journal of Political Science, European Sociological Review, and Socio-Economic Review.

Recommended Citation

Heisig, J. P. (2024, May 24). Mapping and explaining ethnic environmental inequality in Germany [Video podcast]. Retrieved from