Inequality versus Inclusion in US Cities

Research Report

Inequality versus Inclusion in US Cities


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.

Cross-Center Initiative

Cross-Center Initiative: 
To reuse content from Urban Institute, visit, search for the publications, choose from a list of licenses, and complete the transaction.