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Kansas City is among the most economically segregated cities in the U.S.

A new study by the Urban Institute says cities where residents are segregated by race and income are not as prosperous as more integrated cities. Kansas City is the fifth most economically segregated city in the study.
A new study by the Urban Institute says cities where residents are segregated by race and income are not as prosperous as more integrated cities. Kansas City is the fifth most economically segregated city in the study. Urban Institute

Kansas City is one of the most economically segregated metropolitan areas in the country, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute.

New York was the most economically segregated, followed by Bridgeport, Conn.; Charlotte, N.C.; San Jose, Calif.; and Kansas City, according to the economic and social policy think tank in Washington, D.C.

Predominately white Eugene, Ore. was the least economically segregated area, followed by Johnson City, Tenn.; Honolulu; Baton Rouge, La.; and Harrisburg, Pa.

In areas with high levels of economic segregation, such as New York City, access to good schools, jobs, housing and public services tend to be concentrated where people with big incomes live and too far for convenience from poorer people, explains CNN.

Mark Treskon and Rolf Pendall, two of the report’s authors, told Time that economic segregation is more prevelant in larger metropolitan areas because bigger populations tend to cluster together into groups of similar income levels.

Researchers who analyzed the country’s 100 most populous commuting zones — government-defined groups of counties whose residents primarily work in a major U.S. city — identified a pattern: Economic segregation particularly hurts black residents.

“The interconnected relationship between economic and racial segregation speaks to the fact that the costs segregation imposes on residents vary by race and ethnicity,” the study’s authors wrote.

They used Chicago as a case study.

“That the Chicago metro area is among the most racially and economically segregated regions in the country is not news. But what is new, thanks to the report analysis, is a deeper, more nuanced understanding of how both types of segregation work together to limit human potential and prosperity for everyone in the region, not just those in the poorest towns and neighborhoods,” the MacArthur Foundation, which supported the study, wrote of the report.

“Indeed, our fates are far more intertwined than many might acknowledge.”

For Chicago, the real cost of continued racial and economic segregation is $4.4 billion in lost earnings, a 30 percent higher homicide rate and 83,000 fewer bachelor’s degrees received, the study suggests.

“Chicago continues to struggle as a highly segregated metro area, which has major effects for all residents,” the study notes.

If, for example, Chicago could reduce its level of economic segregation to the average level of the 100 largest commuting zones, black capita incomes would go up by 2.7 percent (or $527), with an overall aggregate increase of $772 million, the authors estimate.

“Policy-makers and advocates have spent decades trying to respond to the reality and consequences of racial residential segregation,” the study’s authors wrote. “Recently, there has been a growing effort to confront rising levels of economic segregation as well.

“While substantial evidence exists on the harms of segregation for people with lower incomes or racial and ethnic minorities, its effect on regional outcomes has been less clear.”

Researchers say their next step is to help cities better integrate their neighborhoods by income.

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