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New research shows link between racial equity & urban economic growth

24% GDP increase possible

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Houston’s diversity has been described many times as a small glimpse of what America’s demographic future will look like in the coming years and decades, as most famously documented by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Houston Area Survey. Houston’s economic future is tied to this changing diversity of the region, as income inequality could potentially hold back economic growth if racial equity issues are not addressed. A new report by Policy Link is being used to show how much of an economic impact racial equity can have for cities, especially diverse cities such as Houston. More on the report from CityLab:

“As America becomes a majority people-of-color nation, racial inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s an absolute economic imperative,” says Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, which has released new research showing the economic potential of racial equity.

The brief presents a universe where everyone has the same access to education, career paths, and opportunities, says Sarah Treuhaft, deputy director of PolicyLink and one of the authors of the brief. The study examines what the 2012 economic output would have looked like if incomes of all race groups were lifted to the average income of the white population. (Data note: They didn’t assume that everyone had the same income, just that the average income distribution adjusted by age didn’t differ for different races.)

The result? In the 150 largest metro areas, total GDP hikes up by 24 percent. Cities such as Portland, Maine, and Springfield, Missouri, that are 90 percent white only show a 2 percent increase. Brownsville, Texas, where people of color make up 88 percent of the population, doubles its growth—it shows a 131 percent increase. Basically, any city with a diverse population stands to gain.


Full story: How Racial Equity Can Make Cities Richer
Source: CityLab, October 23, 2014

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr)

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