Unlocking Ohio’s economic potential: The impact of eliminating racial disparities on Ohio businesses, governments and communities
July 12, 2023
This analysis from HPIO looks at the economic potential associated with eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in Ohio, finding that if Ohio eliminates disparities, the state could gain $79 billion in annual economic output by 2050.
Beyond the substantial impacts on people and communities of color across Ohio, disparities in outcomes, such as life expectancy and overall health status, represent missed economic opportunities for Ohio businesses, governments and communities. Allowing these disparities to continue to exist will only result in a more economically unstable and unhealthy Ohio. By eliminating racial disparities, leaders in Ohio can grow the workforce, increase consumer spending, strengthen communities and reduce fiscal pressures on state and local budgets. In addition to growing the size of Ohio’s economy, the elimination of disparities would also enable the state to gain:
- $40 billion more in total income
- $30 billion more in consumer spending
- $4 billion more in state and local sales tax revenues
- $3 billion in reduced healthcare spending
- $2 billion in increased employee productivity
- $821 million in reduced corrections spending
The analysis found that Ohio can grow its economy and preserve public resources by ensuring that every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life and fully participate in the state’s economy. When people are healthy and financially stable, their families, businesses and local communities benefit. However, the 2023 Health Value Dashboard shows that Ohioans face worse health outcomes, including living shorter and less healthy lives, than people in most other states. Contributing factors include rising overdose and suicide deaths and Ohio’s long-term decline in labor force participation.
These challenges are especially stark for Black and Hispanic/Latino Ohioans, who often face barriers to health and employment — barriers that are rooted in systemic and historical injustices that continue to this day. This results in disparities, or systematic differences in outcomes, experienced across groups of Ohioans. By eliminating racial disparities, leaders in Ohio can grow the workforce, increase consumer spending, strengthen communities and reduce fiscal pressures on state and local budgets.
The report summarizes the factors that contribute to racial disparities in Ohio, provides new data on the economic benefits Ohio could gain by eliminating disparities and recommends a series of actions that Ohioans can take to eliminate racism, improve health and increase economic vitality.
About this analysis
This analysis is a first-of-its-kind look at the economic potential associated with eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in Ohio. Building on recent national findings, researchers from Altarum, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research firm, measured current differences in outcomes in income, health and incarceration experienced across racial and ethnic groups. Researchers then calculated the economic effects of eliminating those disparities. They also quantified the ways Ohio’s changing demographics will affect those economic impacts over time.
This groundbreaking analysis offers fresh insights but comes with limitations. It may not fully account for all the economic benefits that could accrue to the public sector or businesses. Estimates also do not include the cost of any investments that may be needed to close gaps in outcomes. The findings nonetheless illustrate that advancing a more equitable Ohio is a path to economic growth. The methodology includes a detailed description of data sources and methods.
3 key findings for policymakers
- Eliminating disparities experienced by Black and Hispanic/Latino Ohioans can increase the state’s health, well-being and economic vitality. Ohio stands to gain an estimated $79 billion in annual economic output by 2050 by providing fair environments and opportunities to every resident.
- If Ohio fails to act, the state stands to continue losing billions of dollars in income, consumer spending, tax revenues, employee productivity and excess healthcare and government spending each year.
- Leaders across various sectors have many options to drive meaningful change. Public and private partners from all corners of the state have a role to play in supporting the well-being of every Ohioan and maximizing everyone’s potential to contribute.
- Facts & Figures (PowerPoint data graphics from the report for public use)
- HPIO’s health equity work
- Connections between racism and health: Taking action to eliminate racism and advance equity (August 2020)
- Connections between criminal justice and health: Insights on justice and race (November 2021)
- Connections between criminal justice and health (June 2021)