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Paul Ong: “The Widening Divide Revisited – Economic Inequality in Los Angeles”

September 18, 2014 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The ARC Research Praxis Seminar Series Presents

Paul Ong
The Widening Divide Revisited: Economic Inequality in Los Angeles

Thursday, September 18, 2014
4:00pm – 6:00pm
ARC Conference Room
Room 5318
The Graduate Center, CUNY

A quarter century ago, the UCLA 1989 report “The Widening Divide: Income Inequality and Poverty in Los Angeles” generated considerable public and media attention on the growing disparity in the region, resulting in an editorial call for a new development policy that was then embraced by re-elected Mayor Tom Bradley. Despite being a pivotal political moment, the local policy shift at best only attenuated the long-term and persistent increase in the unequal distribution of income and wealth, a trajectory national and global in scale, but very much manifested and experienced locally. The 2007 Great Recession has rekindled widespread concern about economic inequality. Media attention has been highlighted the adverse impacts of the business cycle, particularly the housing and financial crisis, and the complicit failure of public and private institutions. Although myopic, this awareness has opened the door to expand the political discourse to include the fundamental forces at work for decades. There is a need for national and regional knowledge to inform the policy debate.

Researching regional dynamics and structures is critical for three reasons. One, inequality is not only produced and reproduced at a national level but also at the regional level. Two, this type of analysis provides the public a better sense and ownership of the problem because they are able to relate to the inequality unfolding in their own backyard. Finally, localizing knowledge production is important because even national solutions must be implemented locally, and some solutions must address the region’s unique challenges.


Paul M. Ong
Distinguished Professor, School of Public Affairs, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and Department of Asian American Studies, University of California-Los Angeles

Paul M. Ong has a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington and a doctorate in economics from UC Berkeley.  He is the current director of the Center for the Study of Inequality and senior editor of AAPI Nexus: Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice and Community. He was the chair of UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning, director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, acting director of the Institute for Industrial Relations, and founding director of UC AAPI Policy Program. He has conducted research on immigration, civic and political participation, economic status of minorities, welfare-to-work, health workers, spatial inequality, and environmental inequality.  He has served on advisory committees for California’s Employment Development Department and Department of Social Services, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, the California Wellness Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the National Research Council.


September 18, 2014
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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ARC Conference Room 5318
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016 United States


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