Discrimination Isn't Just Wrong — It's Hurting the Economy

Chauncey DeVega writes about discrimination based on gender, race, disability and sexual orientation. Not only does discrimination "insult our basic notions of fairness," he says, but it also has economic implications.

Some of this is not news: the "gender pay gap" is well documented, as is discrimination against people of color in hiring and the workplace. Perhaps more important is the connection between discrimination and poverty. LGBT people, people with disabilities, women, and people of color are more likely to live in poverty, and it’s no sleight of hand to infer that discrimination against these groups, both in the workforce and in everyday life, contribute to their disproportional rates of poverty.

With all this in mind, the next step seems simple: by solving discrimination, society could allow women, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBT people to contribute positively to the economy, leave poverty, and stop having to rely on government services to meet their basic needs.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

In order to dismantle discrimination and reap the economic benefits of real equality in the United States, we also have to examine the systematic oppression that maintains inequity in access to resources and bias against people who are discriminated against. It is not just the "deep cultural hostility" against people of color, LGBT people, women, and those with disabilities that DeVega discusses keeping discrimination alive, though that plays a greater role than often acknowledged when trying to solve issues of economic justice in these communities. We have to understand that economics are intrinsically linked to any conversation about marginalized groups: discrimination has led to their economic disenfranchisement, and will continue to contribute to the obstacles to escaping the cycle of poverty.

By considering the economic impact of ending discrimination, we are one step closer to a more equitable economy and a fairer America.