Paul Ong

Luskin School of Public Affairs

“Uncertain Progress: South LA Since the 1968 Kerner Commission Report” (Research Proposal)

Research Proposal

Uncertain Progress: South LA Since the 1968 Kerner Commission Report

Despite some notable gains in civil rights since the 1960s, racial economic inequality remains a persistent issue facing the US and the Los Angeles region. The project’s foci are to examine what progress has (or has not) been made since the 1965 Watts Riots in South Los Angeles, to document how the nature of socioeconomic stratification has transformed, and to assess outcomes relative to  the recommendations made by the Kerner Commission and California’s McCone Report on employment, housing, and education. The 50th anniversary of the Kerner report in 2018 provides an opportunity to highlight current challenges. This project’s goal is to contribute to a renewed policy discussion on what governmental actions are required to address systemic disparities through a detailed quantitative examination of the patterns, magnitude, and trajectories of these phenomena in South LA from 1965 to present. This project builds on existing research projects by the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge around the topics of economic inequality, gentrification and displacement in Los Angeles. The project is supported by multiple sources of funding.


Paul M. Ong is a Professor of Urban Planning, Social Welfare, and Asian American Studies in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and is the Director of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. His research has focused on the labor market status of minorities and immigrants, displaced   high-tech workers, work and spatial/transportation mismatch, and environmental justice. His current research includes an analysis of the relationship between sustainability and equity, the racial wealth gap, and the role of urban structures on the reproduction of inequality. Previous research projects have included studies of the impact of defense cuts on California’s once-dominant aerospace industry, the impact of immigration on the employment status of young African Americans, and the influence of car ownership and subsidized housing on welfare usage.