Economic Development, Equity and Inclusion

Course Number: 
GAFL 500


  • Spring 2018
Course Format: 
On-Campus Day(s): 
On-Campus Time: 
2:00pm - 5:00pm
Course Description: 

Virtually every US city experienced a great decline in the second half of the twentieth century.  The manufacturing base of industrial cities deteriorated as factories moved to the suburbs in search of cheaper land, creating a vicious cycle.  Following the jobs and taking advantage of racial preferences in the suburbs, working and middle class residents fled the cities. As the tax base shrunk, cities were forced to raise taxes to support services, leading to more job and residential flight. The "inner city" became synonymous with blight and decline- with ominous racial undertones- as urban and suburban political priorities and sentiments began to diverge sharply.    Yet by the turn of the 21st century, this process had bottomed out and in many so-called "post-industrial" cities, some of these trends were beginning to reverse.  In the 1990s and early 2000s in particular, civic and political leaders had to make tough decisions about prioritizing scarce public resources.  Would they focus on revitalizing the downtown core to create jobs, induce people with higher incomes to choose their city, and grow a tourism economy?  Would they focus on rebuilding the most distressed and disinvested inner city neighborhoods?  Or would they focus on shoring up the so-called "middle neighborhoods" that were able to maintain some stability during the great decline? Additionally, city leaders had to and still do contend with critical questions about who does and should benefit from economic development.  Should we prefer "trickle down" policies that focus on high-end development and presume that they will eventually lead to benefit for the less advantaged in the form of service sector or indirect jobs?  Or should cities be more proactive and ensure that public and publicly-enabled investments leverage increases in human capital development through public goods like parks and schools?   This course will focus on case studies from several cities to explore the policy options available to leaders, to assess their decisions, and to consider whether it is possible to promote economic development that is robust and sustainable as well as equitable and inclusive.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829