Wealth Gap Between Whites and Blacks, Hispanic Households Widens

A new study reveals harsh realities

black couple arguing moneyNew research by Urban Institute’s Opportunity and Ownership Project suggests wealth disparity from white households to black and Hispanic households has widened.

From the Urban Institute:

In 2010, white families averaged six times the wealth of black and Hispanic households ($632,000 versus $98,000 and $110,000, respectively), up from a 5-to-1 ratio in 1983. Wealth is total assets, such as bank and retirement accounts and home value, minus debts, including mortgages, student loans, and credit-card balances. The income gap, by comparison, is much smaller. In 2010, the average household income for whites was $89,000, about twice the $46,000 average for black and Hispanic families and roughly the same ratio as in 1983.

As whites, blacks, and Hispanics age, their wealth trajectories — in absolute and relative terms — diverge sharply. Early in their wealth-building years (ages 32–40), white families in 1983 had an average net worth of $184,000. In 2010, near their peak wealth-building period (ages 59–67), their net worth was up to $1.1 million. In contrast, average black wealth rose from $54,000 to $161,000, while Hispanic wealth increased from $46,000 to $226,000.

“Wealth isn’t just money in the bank, it’s insurance against tough times, tuition to get a better education and a better job, savings to retire on, and a springboard into the middle class. In short, wealth translates into opportunity,” the book “Less than Equal: Racial Disparities in Wealth Accumulation reads.

The income disparity was less stark.

“As whites, blacks, and Hispanics age, their wealth trajectories — in absolute and relative terms — diverge sharply. Early in their wealth-building years (ages 32–40), white families in 1983 had an average net worth of $184,000. In 2010, near their peak wealth-building period (ages 59–67), their net worth was up to $1.1 million. In contrast, average black wealth rose from $54,000 to $161,000, while Hispanic wealth increased from $46,000 to $226,000.”

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