Conceptual discussions of sustainability emphasize the interdependent relationship between relevant social and environmental factors. Yet, traditional quantitative analyses of the topic have tended to estimate the exogenous or direct/indirect effects a predictor variable has on a particular measure of sustainability. We examine the endogenous, interdependent relationship between the three E’s of sustainability (economy, equity, and ecology), incorporating country-level data for 1990 through 2015 into cross-lagged structural equation models with reciprocal and fixed effects. Results from these longitudinal models suggest that over time, at the country level, increasing economic inequality reduces renewable energy consumption, with no evidence of reciprocal feedback. Keeping in mind the limitations of the analysis, we tentatively argue that the modern form of development has constrained the potential for the sustainability goals to feed back into each other.
The environmental implications of racial inequality have been discussed by sociologists almost exclusively as matters of environmental justice or injustice, where scholars analyze how racial inequality affects a community's rate of exposure to environmental hazards. The present study seeks to assess how race and income independently and synergistically affect the emission of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from on-road travel across and within counties, using longitudinal data from 3,079 counties in the continental United States. We incorporate these data into a hybrid panel model to test the effect of racial composition over time and across space. We find that, over time, as the percentage of White individuals living in a county increases, the county emits less CO 2 from on-road transportation. Across space, counties with more Black residents (as a percentage of total population) emit more on-road CO 2 than other counties. To connect our findings with the broader environmental sociological literature, we also explore the interaction of race and affluence, finding that the effect of racial composition is influenced by variation in local affluence across space. Specifically, affluence reduces the correlation between percentage of Black residents and emissions. Conceptually, we argue that through the process of subnational uneven development, environmental privilege manifests as a distinct dimension of environmental racism that affects how specific racial groups experience environmental degradation.