The Washington Post, (04.06.2020), von and
In the decades since, white wealth has soared while black wealth has stagnated. Many have pointed out the far larger share of white millionaires than black, but even among the middle class, the inequities are stark.
In 1968, a typical middle-class black household had $6,674 in wealth compared with $70,786 for the typical middle-class white household, according to data from the historical Survey of Consumer Finances that has been adjusted for inflation. In 2016, the typical middle-class black household had $13,024 in wealth versus $149,703 for the median white household, an even larger gap in percentage terms.
“The historical data reveal that no progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years,” wrote economists Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins in their analysis of U.S. incomes and wealth since World War II.
1 in 7 white families are now millionaires. For black families, it’s 1 in 50.
As of 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, you would have to combine the net worth of 11.5 black households to get the net worth of a typical white U.S. household.
“Everybody knows that people of color are at an incredible economic disadvantage, but few realize it’s as bad or worse than it was before Civil Rights,” said Karen Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics. “Black Lives Matter has shown that we don’t have Selma Bridge anymore, but the situation today is profoundly troubling.”
Wealth takes into account not just the wages that people earn for work, but homes, stock-market investments and other assets they have. More wealth makes for more a comfortable, safer living. And, more importantly, it is passed on to the next generation. Their parents’ wealth gives many white children a boost at birth, an advantage many of their black peers lack.
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Higher education has long been touted as a ticket to the middle class, but for black Americans that has not been as true as one might hope. The typical black household headed by someone with an advanced degree has less wealth than a white household with only a high school diploma.
The wealth gap is even more pronounced among less-educated Americans. A white household whose head has only a high school diploma has almost 10 times the wealth of a black family with the same education. The fact that black families start off with so much less wealth makes it difficult to catch up, research has found.
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