Publications

2019
Alvarez CH, McGee JA, York R. Is Labor Green?: A Cross-National Analysis of Union Membership and CO2 Emissions. Nature & Culture. 2019;14 (1).Abstract
In this article, we assess whether unionization of national workforces influences growth in national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. Political-economic theories in environmental sociology propose that labor unions have the potential to affect environmental conditions. Yet, few studies have quantitatively assessed the influence of unionization on environmental outcomes using cross-national data. We estimate multilevel regression models using data on OECD member nations from 1970 to 2014. Results from our analysis indicate that unionization, measured as the percentage of workers who are union members, is negatively associated with CO2 emissions per capita, even when controlling for labor conditions. This finding suggests that unionization may promote environmental protection at the national level.
Alvarez CH, Loustaunau L, Petrucci L, Scott E. Impossible Choices: How Workers Manage Unpredictable Scheduling Practices. Labor Studies Journal. 2019.Abstract

A total of 16 percent of hourly workers and 36 percent of workers paid on some other basis experience unstable work schedules due to irregular, on-call, rotating, or split shifts, which negatively impact workers’ ability to manage family responsibilities, finances, and health. Primarily drawing on data from in-depth interviews conducted in Oregon in 2016, this study expands research on how workers navigate through “bad jobs” by exploring the ways in which they respond in an attempt to manage the individual impacts of precarious work arrangements. We found that workers respond to unpredictable scheduling in four ways: they acquiesce, self-advocate, quit, or directly oppose employers. Our findings highlight the “impossible choices” workers face as they negotiate prevalent, unpredictable work conditions, juggle work-life obligations, and struggle to remain employed. We conclude with fair week, work policy recommendations.

(equal co-auhtors)

Clement MT, Alvarez CH. The Inequality of Mundane Environmental Change: Assessing the Impacts of Socioeconomic Status and Race on Neighborhood Land Development, 2001–2011. Sociological Perspectives. 2019.Abstract
Theoretical frameworks in environmental inequality suggest that affluent, white, and educated communities have a greater ability to control local environmental change. With a focus on neighborhood-level land development, the authors evaluate this proposition considering the spatial shifts that are reshaping metropolitan areas across the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. With coverage for 52,473 metropolitan census tracts, the authors integrate sociodemographic variables from governmental sources with longitudinal data on developed land area from the National Land Cover Database, 2001–2011. Controlling for a host of other factors, results from spatial regression models with fixed effects show that new land development is negatively associated with affluence and educational attainment. Situating the notion of environmental privilege in a historical context, we propose that, with the “back to the city” movement, these groups are moving back into the urban core, which is already relatively built-out and thus has a lower rate of new land development.
2018
Alvarez CH, Norton-Smith KG. Environmental Inequality in Latino Destinations: Estimated Cancer Risk from Air Toxics in Latino Traditional and New Destinations. Socius. 2018;4.Abstract
Since the 1990s, Latino migration patterns have shifted from traditional destinations to new destinations away from the Mexico border. Scholars note disparities between destinations in housing, crime, and health care, yet no study has examined environmental inequalities. In this article we employ theories of spatial assimilation and environmental inequality to evaluate health risks across Latino destinations by asking the question, is there a difference in estimated cancer risk from air toxics among established, new, and nondestination locations? Using county-level data with spatial lag regression analyses, we find that early new destinations (i.e., counties with significant Latino growth from 1990 to 2000) and recent new destinations (i.e., counties with significant Latino growth from 1990 to 2010) have higher estimated cancer risk from air toxics than established destinations (i.e., counties at or greater than the national average of Latinos in 1990) and nondestinations. The effect remains significant when controlling for various economic indicators.
2016
Alvarez CH. Militarization and Water: A Cross-National Analysis of Militarism and Freshwater Withdrawals. Environmental Sociology. 2016;2 (3).Abstract
The treadmill of destruction theory identifies the military as a major contributor to environmental problems. Water resources exploitation is one major problem that has been insufficiently studied by sociologists. Utilizing the treadmill of destruction framework here, I aim to assess how the military influences water use in nations. The purpose of this article is twofold: first, I utilize the treadmill of destruction theory to explain how the military interacts with water resources through combat and civilian operations. Second, I empirically demonstrate militarization influences on freshwater withdrawals through a fixed-effect analysis of 126 countries between 1997 and 2011. Militarization is measured as the number of military personnel relative to the population and military spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. My results show that as military personnel and spending increases, there is a corresponding increase in freshwater withdrawals. My analysis suggests militarization is an important structural driver of environmental impacts including freshwater resources.
McGee JA, Alvarez CH. The Metabolic Rift of Certified Organic Farming. Sustainability [Internet]. 2016;8 (2). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Many proponents of organic farming claim that it is a sustainable alternative to conventional agriculture due to its reliance on natural agro-inputs, such as manure based fertilizers and organic pesticides. However, in this analysis we argue that although particular organic farming practices clearly benefit ecosystems and human consumers, the social context in which some organic farms develop, limit the potential environmental benefits of organic agriculture. Specifically, we argue that certified organic farming’s increased reliance on agro-inputs, such as organic fertilizers and pesticides, reduces its ability to decrease global water pollution. We review recent research that demonstrates the environmental consequences of specific organic practices, as well as literature showing that global organic farming is increasing its reliance on agro-inputs, and contend that organic farming has its own metabolic rift with natural water systems similar to conventional agriculture. We use a fixed-effects panel regression model to explore how recent rises in certified organic farmland correlate to water pollution (measured as biochemical oxygen demand). Our findings indicate that increases in the proportion of organic farmland over time increases water pollution. We conclude that this may be a result of organic farms increasing their reliance on non-farm agro-inputs, such as fertilizers.