Research Report Inequality versus Inclusion in US Cities
Christina Plerhoples Stacy, Brady Meixell, Tanaya Srini
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Income inequality is a suboptimal measure of inclusion at the city level. A low level of inequality can reflect the exclusion or displacement of low-income residents, or it can reflect a lack of opportunity overall. Using data for 274 US cities for the years 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2010, we create more complete measures of both economic and racial inclusion. We then compare these inclusion measures with the Gini coefficient using a within estimator for cities over time. Results indicate that inequality and inclusion are not highly correlated and often trend in opposite directions. Most concerning is that reductions in income inequality are associated with reductions in the share and number of residents of color within a city, suggesting that changes in income inequality capture the displacement of residents rather than true improvements to quality of life.

Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Wealth and financial well-being Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Families Social safety net Race and equity
Tags Poverty Economic well-being Family and household data Employment and income data Racial and ethnic disparities Racial segregation Workers in low-wage jobs Wealth inequality Community and economic development Racial barriers to accessing the safety net Racial inequities in economic mobility Racial inequities in employment Racial inequities in neighborhoods and community development
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center