Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress and PolicyLink hosted a convening with leading economists and policy experts to discuss the proposition that a focus on equity and economic inclusion is necessary to grow the U.S. economy. In the companion framing paper titled “Is Equity the Superior Growth Model?” authors Sarah Treuhaft from PolicyLink and David Madland from American Progress discuss how economic growth has been slower and less broadly shared over the past several decades, leaving more and more families, even entire communities, behind with diminishing prospects for catching up.
The report identifies critical long-term economic trends of greater inequality and stunted upward mobility that have impacted not only the poorest of the poor but also lower-and middle-income families. This has especially been the case for Americans of color, who accounted for more than 90 percent of the nation's population growth in the past decade, and by 2042 are projected to be the majority in the United States.
Economic trends identified in the paper include:
Increasing income inequality
Rising productivity but stagnant wages
A growing wealth gap
Truncated economic mobility
More and deeper poverty
Persistent racial disparities
The long-term economic trends clearly undermine American ideals of fairness and equity and the notion that prosperity should be broadly shared. But could the eclipse of the American promise also be undermining our economic competitiveness? Is it possible that the traditional assumption that there is a trade-off between growth and equity is wrong, and that broadly shared growth is ultimately better for the economy? Could a focus on equity—the economic and social inclusion of those left behind—be much more than a humanitarian or moral act but actually a superior economic growth model? And, if so, what does an inclusive and sustainable growth trajectory look like?
Now is a critical moment to begin a national dialogue about the growing opportunity deficit and what it means for our economic future.
“Is Equity the Superior Growth Model?” is intended as a starting point for that discussion. It highlights key economic and demographic trends, summarizes the literature on equity and growth, and suggests some next steps for building an inclusive growth agenda.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."