The Cost of Segregation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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The Cost of Segregation

What we pay in lost income, lives and potential

The Metropolitan Planning Council, together with Urban Institute and a team of policy advisors, is leading a groundbreaking, two-year research and policy initiative. The first phase of the work—detailed in the report at right—reveals that segregation costs the Chicago region billions in lost income, lost lives and lost potential each year. In other words, if metro Chicago were less segregated, it could see $4.4 billion in additional income each year, a 30 percent lower homicide rate and 83,000 more bachelor’s degrees. (For more detailed descriptions of our research methods, refer to Urban Institute’s report.)

Scheduled for release in Spring 2018, we are focusing on the work we can do—and policies we can adopt—to reduce Chicago's segregation, increase equity and dialogue, and collectively create a metropolitan Chicago that works for everyone. 


Map of the Chicago region indicating concentrated racial segregation

Chicago consistently ranks among America's top segregated regions. Like many U.S. metropolitan regions, historical and ongoing systemic racism has blurred the lines between racial and economic segregation; today, our poorest residents are disproportionately people of color living in communities of concentrated poverty. While the disadvantages of living in concentrated poverty have been well documented, there is less evidence of the disadvantages of segregation to all of a region's residents. MPC and Urban Institute's study rests on the premise that not only low-income people and communities pay the price, but that segregation hampers the economy and quality of life for everyone living in metropolitan Chicago. Therefore, all must be part of the solution.


A row of house in Chicago

Eric Allix Rogers

In the second phase of the study, we are exploring what can be done to change patterns of racial and economic segregation given its negative impact on issues of equity.

In-depth quantitative and qualitative research is driving this work along with study trips to cities that are proactively working to address equity issues.

Scheduled for release in 2018, we are partnering with a wide range of advisors to identify solutions for creating an integrated, equitable and economically stronger metropolitan Chicago.

Our goal is to develop and model housing, transportation, economic, health, safety and education policy interventions aimed at addressing segregation. We are also examining policies that address our deep inequities and need for dialogue across groups.

These policies will define our future city, county and regional advocacy agenda.


The next phase of our work will point to policies that:

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Urban Institute


The Chicago Community Trust
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616

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Shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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