Back in the 1980s, San Francisco was a relative bastion of diversity in an otherwise homogenous region, but in the span of two generations, all that will reverse, according to a new report from social equity group PolicyLink. While the suburbs in the five-county region—San Mateo, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco proper—have grown steadily more diverse, San Francisco is projected to decline in demographic diversity by 2040, making it the only Bay Area county on track to actually grow whiter over time. Yet on the whole, the wider Bay Area's circumstances aren't so bleak: The five-county region remains the second most diverse in the country, behind only Fairfield-Vallejo.
In 1980, the suburban areas around San Francisco were far whiter than they are today; no county in the region had a population where people of color were the majority. Since then, the share of people of color increased from 34 percent in 1980 to 58 percent today. By 2040, only San Francisco's proportion of people of color is projected to fall below the 50 percent threshold, while the surrounding counties will grow more diverse.
San Francisco's degree of income inequality has also increased, to levels roughly on par with Madagascar. Of the 150 largest regions in the US, the Bay Area ranked 45th for income inequality in 1979. Now we've jumped to No. 14. Across the US, income inequality has risen steadily since 1979, but in about 1999, the Bay Area's rate of increase surpassed the nation's average.
"It's startling because the city's diversity and identity as a progressive, inclusive city is seriously at risk," PolicyLink's Equitable Growth Initiatives director, Sarah Treuhaft, told CityLab. "In fact, an honest look at the data show it is becoming a mirage."
· An Equity Profile of the San Francisco Bay Area Region [PolicyLink]
· San Francisco Is 2014's Top-Performing City but Has Income Inequality of Madagascar [Curbed SF]
· A Startling Map of How Much Whiter San Francisco Will Be in 2040 [CityLab]