2022 journal article
Historical manufacturing volatility and local sustainability efforts: A link to the past
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 72.
Renewed attention to the role of subnational efforts in addressing myriad environmental challenges necessitates a greater understanding of the factors associated with program adoption. Given observed relationships between adoption of sustainability practices and the presence of carbon-intensive industry, and separately the observed persistence of industrial history in a given place, we explore the link between historical manufacturing employment volatility and current sustainability plan adoption at the local level. Our analysis suggests that the magnitude of changes in manufacturing employment is inversely related to the likelihood of sustainability plan adoption. Our analysis further suggests that, given the same pace of change, counties with shrinking manufacturing employment are more likely to adopt sustainability plans than those with growing employment. Lastly, we find that the link between past industrial transitions and local sustainability commitment is moderated by local disaster experience and priority for environmental protection. Collectively, the findings also shed light on potential—and otherwise unobservable—barriers to transitions to sustainable practices at the local level. In particular, the inverse relationship between pace of employment change and plan adoption suggests that minimizing the rapidity of contemporary transitions may counterintuitively ease the eventual adoption of sustainability-related policies.