Social equity should be something to work toward for its own sake, but in case public officials needed extra motivation, it’s also been tied to prolonged economic growth. A recent report by the International Monetary Fund found that more equitable countries tended to have longer national economic growth spells. Now a new study of U.S. metros by researchers at University of California at Davis finds the same thing holds true at a city level.
In an upcoming issue of Urban Studies, Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor report that cities that tend to be more socially inclusive also show longer periods of economic growth—defined here as three or more years of uninterrupted growth in employment numbers. Analyzing 184 urban areas between 1990 and 2011, the researchers found that, among several factors linked with growth spells, the “largest and most significant predictor” was a metro’s income inequality.

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