Representative Bureaucracy, Distributional Equity, and Environmental Justice

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This article explores the role of bureaucratic representation and distributional equity in the implementation of environmental policy, which has been shaped by the politics of identity, administrative discretion, and a contested discourse on the redistribution of public resources. The authors examine whether minority bureaucratic representation fosters policy outputs for race‐related disadvantaged communities and whether the behavior of public administrators reflects distributional equity. Linking representative bureaucracy to environmental justice, this research contributes to the understanding of social equity in public administration and sheds light on the relationship between bureaucratic representation and democratic values. Analyzing a nationwide, block‐group‐level data set, the authors find that a more racially representative workforce in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promotes the agency's enforcement actions in communities that have large local‐national disparities in minority populations and severe policy problems. The size of the bureaucratic representation effect is larger for neighborhoods that are overburdened with race‐related social vulnerability.