Document Type


Publication Date


Streaming Media


Brookings Mountain West


Inequality may be the result of global economic forces, but it matters in a local sense. Large population, diverse housing types, and generally progressive politics mean that big cities will always have higher shares of the rich and poor than smaller places. But a city where the rich are very rich, and the poor very poor, is likely to face difficulties educationally, fiscally, and socially. In the face of these economic forces and political gridlock in Washington, many cities are becoming the testing ground for new public policies to fight inequality and promote social mobility: local minimum wages, new affordable housing tools, universal pre-kindergarten, and the like. This lecture will explore the economic and political sources of inequality as a rising force shaping public policies in U.S. cities, and what impacts leading responses might have on the social and economic character of those cities and their wider metropolitan regions.


Income distribution; Social mobility; Urban economics; Urban policy; Urban poor


Economic Policy | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Urban Studies


Alan Berube is a Metropolitan Studies senior fellow and deputy director with the Brookings Institution. This public lecture, sponsored by Brookings Mountain West, was delivered on April 6, 2016, in Greenspun Hall, on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Downloadable files associated with this event are:

"Inequality, Mobility, and Cities", 32 PowerPoint slides.

"Inequality, Mobility, and Cities", mp4 file