Fostering Racial Equity
Racial equity is an overarching theme underpinning the work of the Commission and the calls to action it proposes. Racial disparities extend to employment, education, housing, transportation, and the application of justice. Those topics are addressed throughout these pages. What is found below is a big-picture sense of racial disparity in the area.
The expert testimony, research, scholarship, and lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:
- Racial equity refers to the capacity of our region to create, manage, and distribute resources in a way that gives people from all racial backgrounds the opportunity to thrive.
- Economists estimate that the 2012 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the St. Louis region would have been 10 percent higher– $151.3 billion instead of $137.57 billion–if there had not been a racial income gap (Public Policy Research Center, 2015).
- The St. Louis region ranks 42 out of 50 large metropolitan areas for economic mobility, defined as a person, family or group’s ability to improve their economic status by moving up in income (Chetty, 2014).
- Researchers found that less racial segregation is one of the five predictors of upward economic mobility (Chetty, 2014). St. Louis currently is the fifth most segregated metropolitan area in the country (Ihnen, 2013).
- At its extreme in the St. Louis region, life expectancy differs by nearly 40 years depending on zip code (Comprehensive Planning Division, 2015). In mostly white, suburban Wildwood, MO., the life expectancy is 91.4 years; in the mostly black, inner-ring suburb of Kinloch, MO., it’s 55.9 years (St. Louis County Health Department, 2015). The reality behind those numbers is a complex, interconnected set of socioeconomic factors, including disparities in access to quality housing, healthcare, education and employment. Researchers estimate that nationwide, in one year alone, premature death associated with low levels of education and poverty among Black individuals costs $3.3 billion (Purnell et al., 2014).
- The National Urban League Policy Institute found that racial disparities in health cost the U.S. $60 billion in excess medical costs and $22 billion in lost productivity in 2009 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012). They projected that if these health disparities remain, the burden will rise to $126 billion by 2020 and $363 billion by 2050 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012). An additional economic loss due to premature deaths was valued at $250 billion in 2009 (National Urban League Policy Institute, 2012).
- In St. Louis, Black individuals are significantly more likely than White individuals to suffer from several chronic diseases and conditions including obesity, asthma, and diabetes (Purnell et al., 2014). There are differences between Black and White individuals for several chronic diseases and conditions (Purnell et al., 2014).
These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action for intentional efforts to face racial inequity head-on and create a future of promise for all citizens in the state.
To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.
Suggested Reading List
Purnell, J., Drake, B.F., Goodman, M., Hudson, D.K., Tate, W.F., Camberos, G., Fields, R., Elder, K., & Gilbert, K.L. (2014). For the Sake of All:A multidisciplinary study on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. Institute for Public Health. Retrieved from: https://publichealth.wustl.edu/projects/sake/
- Chetty, R. (2014) Improving Opportunities for Economic Mobility in the United States. Retrieved from:https://www.budget.senate.gov/democratic/public/_cache/files/08bd12ef-104d-44c0-a589-20dcb426b833/chetty-mobility-testimony.pdf
- Ihnen, A. (2013). Lies, damn lies, racial integration and segregation in St. Louis, and statistics. NextSTL. Retrieved from:https://nextstl.com/2013/01/lies-damn-lies-racial-integration-and-segregation-in-st-louis-and-statistics/
- National Urban League Policy Institute. (2012). State of Urban Health:Eliminating Health Disparities to Save Lives and Cut Costs. Retrieved from: https://iamempowered.com/sites/default/files/nul_state_of_urban_health_2012_report_.pdf
- Public Policy Research Center. (2015). An Equity Assessment of the St. Louis Region. University of Missouri-St. Louis. Retrieved from: https://pprc.umsl.edu/pprc.umsl.edu/data/stl_equity_assessment_may2015.pdf
- Purnell, J., Drake, B.F., Goodman, M., Hudson, D.K., Tate, W.F., Camberos, G., Fields, R., Elder, K., & Gilbert, K.L. (2014). For the Sake of All:A multidisciplinary study on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. Institute for Public Health. Retrieved from: https://publichealth.wustl.edu/projects/sake/
- Comprehensive Planning Division. Aging successfully in St. Louis County. St. Louis County. Retrieved from:https://www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/document%20library/AgeFriendly/FINAL_Aging_Successfully_Assessment.pdf