How Inclusive is Your City?


Heads up, cities: Economic growth does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with economic and racial inclusion. (CityLab)

Use this tool to measure the inclusivity in your own city, and check out today’s MapMaker Interactive map for a look at the term’s broad categories.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

Measures of inclusivity changed cities underwent economic recovery.
Images by the Urban Institute

Discussion Ideas


  • What factors were measured to determine a city’s inclusivity?
    • Economic Health Index. Cities were described as economically healthy (top half of economic health), distressed (bottom third of economic health), recovered (cities that moved from distressed to healthy), or other (cities ranking between bottom third and top half). This was based on:
      • employment growth
      • median family income
      • unemployment rate
      • housing vacancy rate
    • Economic Inclusion Index
      • income segregation. This describes a city’s spatial segregation based on income.
      • rent burden. This describes the percentage of household income dedicated to rent.
      • working poor. This is measured by the share of the population who are below the federal poverty level with at least one householder working full time.
      • proxy for high school dropout rate. This is measured by the share of 16-to 19-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and are not high school graduates.
    • Racial Inclusion Index
      • racial segregation. This describes a city’s spatial segregation based on race and ethnicity.
      • racial home-ownership gap
      • racial poverty gap
      • racial educational attainment gap
      • share of the population that are people of color


  • How does a city’s economic health and prosperity correlate to inclusivity?
    • Economically healthy cities tend to be more inclusive than economically distressed cities. However, this is not consistent, and often does not correlate to racial inclusion.


  • What characteristics or methods do economically and racially inclusive cities share? What can less inclusive cities do to be more inclusive?
    • To answer this question, the Urban Institute met with leaders from four cities that improved their racial and economic inclusion as they recovered from economic distress:
      • Columbus, Ohio
      • Louisville, Kentucky
      • Lowell, Massachusetts
      • Midland, Texas
    • The following eight building blocks were identified and encouraged for greater inclusivity.
      1. Adopt a shared vision early on and get buy-in from local stakeholders.
      2. Inspire and sustain bold leadership from committed public officials or other dedicated stakeholders.
      3. Recruit partners from across sectors, including resident groups, the media, and business leaders. Diverse partners can create buy-in, generate and elevate insights, and support solutions.
      4. Build voice and power within traditionally underrepresented or disenfranchised communities. Ensure diverse representation in planning and political processes.
      5. Leverage assets and intrinsic advantages, such as a city’s physical spaces and the potential of its residents.
      6. Think and act regionally. Job and housing markets cross jurisdictional lines and residents often live, work, and use services outside their city. Regional partnerships can help secure broadly shared prosperity.
      7. Reframe inclusion as integral to growth to encourage progress in both areas. A growing body of evidence suggests that diversity and inclusion is a catalyst for economic development.
      8. Adopt policies and programs to support inclusion. Policies and programs that promote inclusion in education, housing, economic development, and fiscal policy can lead to long-term success.



CityLab: The Most Inclusive U.S. Cities, Mapped

Urban Institute: Measuring Inclusion in America’s Cities

Nat Geo: Where are the Most Inclusive Cities in the U.S.?

(extra credit!) Urban Institute: Inclusive Recovery in US Cities


2 thoughts on “How Inclusive is Your City?

Leave a Reply