Commentary: In US cities, diversity does not always equal inclusivity. cities
Diversity and inclusion are often talked about interchangeably, but they mean different things and have different policy implications for cities to consider.
While racial diversity reflects how many residents are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, racial inclusion, as we define it, benefits residents of all races and ethnicities – particularly historically excluded groups – in economic benefits and Opportunity to contribute gets prosperity.
More diverse cities may be more inclusive, but the two don’t always coincide. Even in diverse cities, power and prosperity can still be concentrated within a single group. City leaders need to act deliberately to overcome a legacy of centuries of racist policies and practices.
So which cities align more when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and which differ? We at the Urban Institute rank 274 of the most populous US cities on racial inclusion using five measures: racial segregation; Racial gaps in homeownership; Racial gaps in education; Racial gaps in poverty; and the share of the population that are people of color (in our analyzes we define people of color as Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, other race in U.S. Census Bureau records) , two or more races, or Hispanic or Latino white).
US News & World Report implemented a diversity index developed by USA Today that measures the likelihood that residents of two randomly chosen cities are of different races or ethnicities. Comparing our data with US News diversity data for the 66 largest cities, we find consistent alignment, and sometimes clear divergence, between a city’s racial diversity and racial inclusion.
Which of America’s most diverse and least diverse cities are racially inclusive?
sources say: US News & World Report analysis of 2018 American Community Survey data and Urban Institute analysis of 2011–15 American Community Survey data.
pay attention: *These rankings differ from those presented by the Urban Institute in Inclusive Recovery Research. Those rankings included all cities with populations over 100,000 in 1980, 1990, 2000 or 2013. (See https://apps.urban.org/features/inclusion/?topic=map for the full 274 city rankings.)Courtesy of Urban Institute
Three of the 10 most diverse cities, as we might expect, fall into the most racially inclusive large cities. Five of the top 10, however, are not even in the top half of racial inclusion cities.
This divergence is driven by significant and frequent gaps in opportunities between white, non-Hispanic residents and residents of color. Oakland, CaliforniaFor example, one that ranks No. 2 on the U.S. News Diversity Index, but ranks No. 26 on the Urban Institute’s Racial Inclusion Index in large cities, had a home-ownership gap of more than 20 percentage points, a racial difference of about 15 percentage points. poverty gap, and the racial education gap of about 25 percentage points in 2013. (Note that on the Urban Institute profile page linked above we rank Oakland among a large group of cities.)
While this may seem counterintuitive at first, some less racially diverse cities actually do well on our inclusion index due to more widely shared opportunity among residents of color. Of the 10 cities with the least diversity, only two fall into the least racially inclusive cities. In fact the lowest ranked city in the diversity index is – El Paso, Texas – is ranked number 4 on the Racial Inclusion Index among large cities, and is the second lowest ranked city on the Diversity Index – Detroit – is at number 1. El Paso and Detroit are examples of a handful of cities with contrasting diversity and inclusion scores that have very few white, non-Hispanic residents. El Paso had a homeownership gap of only 2 percentage points (far below national standards) and since 1980 residential racial segregation has decreased steadily. Detroit demonstrated a significantly smaller racial gap in homeownership (9 percentage points), poverty rate than other US cities. (2 percentage points), and Education (1 percentage point).
Another case of diversity/inclusive divergence can occur when a city has a small proportion of residents of color, but these residents have relatively greater access to opportunity. For example, in Dearborn, Michigan (a city of about 100,000 people that comes out of a US News analysis), the poverty rate for residents of color is actually 7 percentage points. Low Whites compared to non-Hispanic residents, and there is no difference in education by race.
Yet inclusive a city may appear, small racial opportunity gaps don’t always tell the whole story. In some cases, they may indicate that the lowest-income people of color have been excluded or displaced from the city.
Diversity without inclusion cannot prevent powerlessness and limited opportunities from being sustained. Sustaining inclusion without diversity can be difficult because it lacks the diverse perspectives, experiences and representations that are often needed to ensure shared prosperity. Community leaders should accept racial diversity and racial inclusion as complementary objectives, keeping in mind that neither can guarantee the other.
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