SF Fed Asks, “How Much Is Inequity Costing Us?”

Women and people of color face significant obstacles to equal educational and labor market opportunities. These can come from structural barriers that are embedded in policies and practices in society that limit people’s ability to fully participate.

In “The Economic Gains from Equity,” SF Fed researchers take a look at how gender and racial gaps in economic opportunities impact our national economic output. And what did the numbers tell them? That these disparities have created growing losses to the U.S. GDP that amounted to $2.6 trillion in 2019, and that over the last 30 years add up to approximately $71 trillion. These findings show that gender and racial economic equity—just and fair inclusion in an economy in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential—will be critical to producing faster growth and maintaining global competitiveness.

The SF Fed authors—Research Associates Shelby R. Buckman and Lily M. Seitelman, Vice President of Community Development Laura Y. Choi, and President Mary C. Daly—presented this paper at the Uneven Outcomes in the Labor Market Conference hosted by the Atlanta Fed on February 1, 2021.

The research will be released as an FRBSF Working Paper later this spring.

More from the SF Fed on equity and our commitment to change:

Image credit: SiberianArt via iStock.

Note: Updated on February 22, 2021 to include estimated GDP losses, and on March 9, 2021 to link to the conference recordings.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.