In San Antonio, extreme wealth is also not the issue. The city’s top 1 percent averaged incomes of $968,860 in 2015. That may sound like a lot of money, but it places San Antonio 125th among metro areas in the U.S. There is significant wealth here, but there is far more wealth in other places.
Income inequality, although present in the region, is not the reason San Antonio ranks so high in numerous studies of economic disparity.
Economic segregation in San Antonio
Three studies in recent years rank San Antonio with the nation’s leaders in economic segregation.
In 2012, the Pew Research Center released a report called the “Rise of Residential Segregation by Income,” featuring the Residential Income Segregation Index, or RISI.
The San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area ranked first out of the 30 largest metropolitan areas on the RISI with a score of 63 (out of 100).
A high RISI score means that wealthy residents have primarily wealthy neighbors, and less well-off residents have less well-off neighbors, leading to little daily interaction between economic classes.
High RISI scores can be attributed to a myriad of factors, “including housing policies, zoning laws, real estate practices, and migration trends.”
Read more about the RISI in San Antonio here.
The Distressed Communities Index
In its 2016 Distressed Communities Index, the Economic Innovation Group included a measurement called “spatial inequality.”
Spatial inequality measured how close a zip code’s distress score was to a city’s average distress score. The distress score was composed of seven factors, including housing vacancy and high school graduation rates.
San Antonio led the nation in spatial inequality, with an inequality score of 23.7.
This score was calculated by taking the standard deviation of zip code distress scores within the city, weighting each zip code for its population.
Read more about what the DCI says about San Antonio here.
The Overall Economic Segregation Index
In 2015, Richard Florida and the Martin Prosperity Institute released the Overall Economic Segregation Index (OESI).
The OESI examined segregation in the form of income, education and occupation. It relied on the Dissimilarity Index (DSI) created by sociologists Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, which calculates the percentage of one group in (this case) a census tract that would have to move to a different census tract to make the distribution equal.
According to the OESI, San Antonio ranked third in the nation in overall economic segregation. San Antonio’s high overall score resulted from its consistent appearance on the top 10 of most of the indices measured, including segregation of the wealthy and segregation of college graduates.
Read more about what the OESI says about San Antonio here.
Why economic segregation matters
To see San Antonio’s economic segregation, one does not have to look much further than the 78258 and 78207 zip codes. The former is perched just north of Loop 1604, includes Stone Oak, and is comprised of 98 percent high school graduates. Yet, drive six miles down Blanco Road, and 78207 sees barely half of its residents hold that same diploma, a near necessity for economic mobility.