Segregation Carries Negative Economic Impact

A new report from the Urban Institute and the Chicago based non-profit Metropolitan Planning Council found that not only does racial segregation hurt disadvantaged minorities, it also hurts  all of those who live in a segregated region regardless of race.

The study looked at levels of racial and economic segregation in the 100 largest Commuting Zones (CZs) which are nearly identical  to metropolitan areas. It found that not only do higher levels of racial  and economic segregation lead to lower incomes for African Americans but that higher levels of black-white segregation are associated with lower levels of education for  all residents. There is also an increase of homicides in regions with higher levels of black-white segregation.

The economic impact of segregation as it relates to the Chicago region was also closely examined. The study found that Chicago was the 5th most economically and 10th racially segregated region in the country. Were Chicago to reduce its rate of segregation to that of the national median, the report says there would be significant advantages for both blacks and whites. These include a 2.4 percent increase in black per capita income, an increase in educational attainment levels for both blacks and whites with 83,000 more adults getting a bachelor’s degree, and a 30 percent decrease in the homicide rate. Were Chicago to reduce its rate of racial and economic segregation to the national median, per capita incomes for African-Americans would increase by 15.1 percent.

According to the study, Baltimore was the 21st most racially and economically segregated region out of the 100 studied. Although the Baltimore area does score better than Chicago and other areas such as Philadelphia and Detroit, it shows that we still have a lot of work to do. Baltimore has a well documented history of redlining and many of our suburban counties have long resisted the construction of any affordable housing.

Hopefully, a better future is in store when it comes to segregation in the Baltimore area. The Opportunity Collaborative Regional Plan for Sustainable Development outlines how we can dismantle racial and economic segregation while creating a better future for everyone. Baltimore County just recently agreed to a landmark fair housing settlement that serves to increase the number of housing units for low income families in areas of opportunity.

As this study shows, racial and economic segregation is something that negatively impacts everyone. If the Baltimore region is to move forward we need to make sure everyone regardless of race or economic status has a chance to succeed.

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Gregory Friedman

Gregory Friedman

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