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Texas Cities are Some of the Most Economically Segregated

by: Emily Cadik

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT

Texas cities may be major engines of growth, but they are also some of the most segregated in the country in terms of human capital and income inequality.

A recent article in Atlantic Cities looks into the geographic segregation of highly educated people (defined as having a Bachelor's degree or higher) across every census tract in the U.S.

As it turns out, of the top ten large metro areas where highly educated people are the most segregated from other groups, two are in Texas: the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metro area and the San Antonio-New Braunfels metro area. But looking at the map, you can see that basically every large metro area in Texas has a high level of human capital segregation.

In general, educated people are pretty segregated in major cities across the board. But why does education segregation happen more in some places than others?

Find out after the jump.

A few factors seem to be highly correlated with human capital segregation: cities with high populations (which tend to have more high-end, gentrified neighborhoods that attract educated people), cities with significant high-tech industries, cities with large minority populations (meaning human capital segregation is tied closely with racial segregation), and cities with high levels of income inequality.

Atlantic Cities also mapped out wealth segregation as part of its series on economic segregation (see map at left). Consistent with the correlation between education segregation and income inequality, it's clear that the cities in Texas where the educated are the most segregated are the same ones where the wealthy are most segregated.

Segregation of human capital can have long-lasting impacts. According to Richard Florida, the article's author:

"Education is the most important economic asset a person can have. Children have more opportunity for mobility when they grow up in an area with good schools, a low dropout rate, lots of books, and access to libraries and museums. In contrast, children are far more likely to be entrapped in a cycle of long-run concentrated disadvantage when they grow up in a neighborhood with overcrowded and underfunded schools, a higher dropout rate, and few libraries and other cultural institutions."

As Texas cities continue to grow, it's important to think about where the growth is occurring within the cities and what that means in terms of opportunities for those who are left behind.

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