The Wealth Gap and Women of Color

Lifting as we Climb thumbnailThe Insight Center for Community Economic Development recently released a report, Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America's Future (PDF 493KB), which lays out the massive disparities of wealth between white women and women of color.

 "It's rather shocking," said Meizhu Lui, Director of Insight's Closing the Wealth Gap Initiative and contributor to the report. [...] "Even for those of us who have been looing at the wealth gap for a while, we were shocked and amazed at how little women of color have."

One of the report's most grim findings is that while single white women between the ages of 36 and 49 have median net assets of $42,600, their non-white counterparts have only $5.

Much of the report's data was based on the Center's analysis of the Federal Reserve's 2007 Consumer Finance Surveys released prior to the economic larger collapse, which provides sufficient reason to believe that the numbers are worse today.

The report takes into account various factors exacerbating racial wealth disparities amongst women in the US. These include institutional factors, such as tax structures or access to education or fair lending, generational trends in asset-building, and even family and cultural factors, such as parental or marital situations.

"The popular image is that [women of color] spend too much...running up credit card and consumer debt, but the cost of living has risen faster than income, and they need to go into debt for basic daily necessities," said Lui. "It's compounded because unemployment is twice as hight in the Black community than it is in the white community."

The Insight Center intends to use this report to encourage government officials to implement measures to help close the racial and gender wealth gaps, as has been done with past legislation. Lui notes, "It's not about behavior. It's about government policies. [...] Our government knows how to build wealth for people. They've done it for others and they can do it for all of us."

Read the report (PDF 493KB)

Read commentary on the report by Tim Grant in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

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