Cities are central to prosperity: they are hubs of innovation and growth. However, the economic vitality of wealthy cities is marred by persistent and pervasive inequality—and deeply entrenched anti-urban policies and politics limit the options to address it. Structural racism, suburban subsidies, regional government fragmentation, the hostility of state legislatures, and federal policy all contribute to an unequal status quo that underfunds cities while preventing them from pursuing fairer outcomes.
Economist Richard McGahey explores how cities can foster equitable economic growth despite the obstacles in their way. McGahey identifies key lessons about the political coalitions that can overcome anti-urban biases, arguing that alliances among unions, environmentalists, and communities of color can help cities thrive. But he warns that cities cannot solve inequality on their own: political action at state and federal levels is necessary to achieve systemic change.
Richard McGahey discussed his new book with Darrick Hamilton, Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy and founding director of the Institute on Race, Power, and Political Economy; Joseph Heathcott, Chair of Urban and Environmental Studies and Co-Director of the Milano PhD Research Hub; and Lo Lark Sontag, inaugural Sadie T.M. Alexander Economics Department Fellow at the New School for Social Research.