'The Business Case for Racial Equity'

'The Business Case for Racial Equity'

Achieving racial equity is not only a matter of social justice, it also can generate a significant economic return for communities, businesses, and governments, a report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Altarum Institute argues. According to the report, The Business Case for Racial Equity (15 pages, PDF), discriminatory practices in lending, hiring, and law enforcement and sentencing as well as persistent racial and ethnic disparities result in trillions of dollars in lost earnings, avoidable public expenditures, and lost economic output. Indeed, if the average income of African Americans and Latinos rose to the level of white Americans, total U.S. earnings would increase 12 percent, or nearly $1 trillion — which would translate into $180 billion in additional corporate profits, $290 billion in additional federal tax revenues, and a potential reduction in the federal deficit of $350 billion, or 2.3 percent of GDP. Inequities in health — higher rates of premature death, illness, and disability among minorities — also pose an economic burden, which in 2009 cost the U.S. an estimated $60 billion in excess medical expenses and $22 billion in lost productivity. Promising solutions to the problem include reversing housing segregation through voucher programs and inclusionary zoning; addressing educational segregation through magnet programs; closing achievement gaps through early intervention programs; recruiting more minorities to enter healthcare professions; reforming the criminal justice system; and identifying and addressing the social, economic, and environmental causes of community health problems.