Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions

Just Growth

Combining statistical analysis of the largest metropolitan regions in the U.S. with a set of seven in-depth case studies, the authors point to the processes, policies and institutional arrangements that help explain more equitable growth (or its absence) in metropolitan settings. These include the stabilizing effect of the public sector, the positive impact of deconcentrating poverty, the influential role of a minority middle class, and the importance of leadership efforts to develop a shared vision amongst diverse constituencies.

Breaking new ground in its innovative blend of quantitative and qualitative methods, the book argues that another sort of growth is possible. Offering specific insights for regional leaders and analysts of metropolitan areas, the authors also draw a broader – and quite timely – set of conclusions about how to scale up these efforts to address a U.S. economy still seeking to recover from economic crisis and distributional divisions.  Read an excerpt from Just Growth’s introduction here.

Paperback copies of Just Growth can be purchased for $25 at Routledge and Amazon.com, or even as a Kindle edition for only $9.99. Also, thanks to generous funding from the Ford Foundation, a limited number of copies of the book are available free for use in community efforts, professional circles, and classes.


Benner_ChrisChris Benner
Professor, Environmental Studies and Sociology
Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship Director, Everett Program-Digital Tools for Social Innovation

University of California, Santa Cruz

Manuel PastorManuel Pastor
Professor, Sociology / American Studies & Ethnicity
Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change                 Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity
University of Southern California

5 Responses to

  1. Ben Jackson says:

    I heard Prof. Pastor speak about the book last night in New York City and was pleased to see someone took the time to focus on such an important problem in our society. I will buy the book to get a more complete understanding of some of the brief policy poinst he touched on during last nights lecture.

  2. James Charles says:

    Professor Benner
    Thank for presenting at “No Family Held Back Town Hall Meeting” last night in San Jose your participation along with the rest of the presenters offered some valuable information on social justice issues of inclusion and equity that are really relevant to the Silicon Valley. Special Shout Out to Elizabeth and the team at SEIU-USWW for leading the efforts to create the conversation.

  3. Chris, thanks for your presentation, Tuesday, at the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

  4. I just finished reading the book and I think the authors do a great job of articulating their argument. However there are some glaring assumptions and areas of neglect.

    First the authors assume that growth is not only possible but will return given the right policy make up. The argument essentially must hold the rest of the world, with whom we are in direct competition constant, and places undue faith in the ability of this country’s political processes to establish the institutional and financial systems required to make the adequate investments, education and train the workforce and attract the capital necessary to support economic growth in the future. All the while we see trends in education for instance, moving in the opposite direction as the system crumbles under the weight of the combined austerity at the national level and the internal civil war advocates for public systems and charters. Meanwhile China and much of the Emerging world’s educational standing is improving coupled with the other advantages of lower wages, lower cost of investing in new infrastructure and a determined workforce makes recent trends in the geographic shift of FDI more likely to continue. On the other side, Germany, Sweden and many of the other soical democracies of Europe have long standing traditions and institutions of training and apprentiship of younger workers and those looking to renew skill sets. These have been established for decades, while the U.S. must now play catch up and create the systems, the patterns and culture of use and the integration of the output into the labor market from scratch. Third, all these countries have more extensive, faster and robust broadband internet networks than the U.S. which makes their telecommunications system cheaper and much more reliable. Finally, every economic forecast for the global economy predicts that the global share of economic growth will shift from highly industrialized countries like the U.S. toward emerging market economies such as Brazil, South Africa, India and China which are expected to make up more than half of future economic growth by 2025-2050. The U.S. business community understands that this is where the smart investor will put there money and they want access to those markets. To make the adjustments to “just growth” that many left and liberal economic thinkers would like to see (and I personally support those goals) would require a level of domestic protectionism not seen since before WWII. It isn’t likely to happen. Without it, the only manufacturing likely to be done or return to the U.S. will be in the high tech sector which is very capital intensive and less labor intensive that the manufacturing that came before it. Further, this sector will be even more difficulty for entreprenuers of color to enter into, creating more racial/ethnic disparity, as white and to some extent Asian entreprenuers will have access to the capital, skills and networks required to start up and successfully manage those firms while African-Am and Latino entreprenuers (and their respective community labor forces) will remain in the lower growth service sectors of the economy.

    Neglected in the book were a couple of issues. First, “what you produce matters”. Not every region can produce or specialize in the same economic sectors. What you produce matters and while some regions will specialize and be successful in the high growth tech sectors of the future, others will continue to stagnate or at best attach themselves as service or resource appendages to those high growth regions, as advised by the World Bank’s 2005 World Development Report on Global Economic Geography. As a result , some regions will experience growth, others will not, driving them into greater austerity and as long as our quality of life and concept of justice are tied to economic growth, then they will suffer as well.

    Second, the authors for obvious reasons in the introduction to the book wanted to highlight the role that inequality played in creating the conditions and depth of the ecnomic crisis. Missing from their analysis both of the crisis and the capacity for future growth is the role of environmental limits and resource scarcity in both creating the crisis and in limiting the ability of the economy to recover. How does both climate change itself (by the devastation produced by intense climate variablity) impact the future prospects of growth,? Also how will the cost of mitigation and adaptation efforts limit the resources available for investments in other areas necessary to achieve “just growth”?

    These are important questions missing from the work, that I am taking up in my Doctoral research.

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