Is there a real cost to racial segregation? According to a new study from the Metropolitan Planning Council and Urban Institute, there is. In fact, it’s costing the country BILLIONS of dollars each year.
The report, which examined data from 100 metropolitan cities, including Atlanta, Chicago and New York between 1999 and 2010, discovered that racial segregation impacts Black folks the the most economically and results in increased homicide rates among the group as a whole.
Though Black-white segregation has declined over the years, Latino-white segregation has increased, resulting in a lower life expectancy for all. The city of Chicago, which has seen a surge in crime and deadly shootings as of late, was ranked the fifth-most-segregated metro city in the U.S. in the report.
“Our study documents the relationships between segregation and the incomes, educations and safety of a metropolitan region’s residents,” Greg Acs, the director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center of the Urban Institute and co-author of the study, told NBC News. “Our findings suggest that efforts to reduce economic and racial segregation could deliver benefits all across metropolitan areas. Given the high levels of segregation in Chicago, the region’s potential gains from reducing segregation are substantial.”
The report found that if Chicago could lessen its Black-white segregation, African-Americans would earn close to $2,500 more each year with an aggregate increase of $3.6 billion, homicide rates would decrease by 30 percent and 83,000 people would complete their bachelor’s degrees. Though both racial and economic segregation in the city took a 10-percent dip between 1999 and 2010, the analysis indicated Chicago would need to decrease segregation by 19 percent economically, 28 percent among Latinos-whites and 36 percent among Blacks-whites in order to reach the national median.
“This is an issue that’s going to determine what kind of a society we are going to have and Chicago is a good case example that if you don’t do anything, you’re going to have big problems — not just for Blacks and Latinos, but for everyone,” said Gary Orfield, UCLA professor and and co-founder of the Civil Rights Project.
Among the study’s other key findings were that:
- Blacks and whites tend to be more segregated from one another compared to Latinos and whites.
- Regions that are more racially segregated also tend to be more economically segregated.
- Increased levels of Black-white segregation are associated with lower per-capita income for African-Americans.
- Higher levels of Black-white segregation also are associated with lower levels of bachelor-degree attainment for both Blacks and whites.