The racial wealth gap has been measured and studied for decades. One fact has remained the same: White families build and accumulate more wealth more quickly than black and brown families do. The reasons for this are multiple and well-documented.
They start at slavery and traverse the historical and deliberate exclusion of people of color from the economic institutions and government programs that helped white Americans build
wealth and pass it on to successive generations. Segregation and redlining by banks made it impossible for many black and Latino families to secure mortgages, for example. The GI Bill, which helped establish an American middle class by helping veterans pay for college and buy homes after World War II, mostly excluded people of color.
The results are stark. In 2013, the median white family held 13 times as much net wealth as the median black family and 10 times as much wealth as the median Latino family, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Just a decade earlier, the disparity was 7 to 1 for black families, and 9 to 1 for Latino families. A study released this week by the liberal-leaning think tank Demos offered new points of analysis on the disparity, one of which was particularly sobering.
In comparing the wealth held by single parent white families to that held by black and Latino families with two parents, the authors found that: The median two-parent black family had $16,000 in wealth. The median two-parent Latino family had $18,800 in wealth. The median single-parent white family had $35,800 in wealth (two-parent white families had $161,300).