Poster Paper: How Latinos' Perceptions of Environmental Health Threats Impact Policy Preferences

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Edward D. Vargas, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Gabriel Sanchez, Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy and Matt A. Barreto, University of California, Los Angeles

Recent changes in temperature, heightened awareness of natural disasters and water/air pollution emergency crisis has made environmental policy a highly debated and salient issue among environmentalist, public policy scholars, and public health researchers.  Given the vast array of research among environmental scientists, there remains limited research on Latino attitudes and environmental policy. This is of particular importance given that Latinos incur disproportionate exposures to air pollutants, pesticides, and toxic industrial chemicals, and disproportionately affected by asthma and the adverse health outcomes associated with pesticide exposure. Using a nationally representative survey of Latino/a adults (n=1,200), we explore the relationship between environmental health threats on various environmental policy preferences. In particular, we examine the relationship between perceptions of environmental health threats (air pollution and clean drinking water), personal experiences with climate change, and its association with attitudes toward global warming, willingness to pay for clean energy, and Latinos views of the externalities of passing stronger environmental laws. Our findings, suggest that Latinos who view air pollution as a threat, have personally experienced climate change both in the U.S. and their ancestral homeland, are more likely to believe climate change is a serious issue, be willing to pay for clean energy, and agree that passing stricter environmental laws will improve the U.S. economy. This study has implications for our collective knowledge of Latinos’ direct and indirect connections to the environment and policy outcomes.