White D.C. Area Households Have A Net Worth 81 Times Greater Than Black Ones

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Washington City Paper

"As gentrification exacerbates economic inequality in the District, a new report out today illustrates just how big the wealth gap in 'Chocolate City' has been throughout its history. The analysis looks at disparities in financial power between the D.C. metropolitan area's black and white residents, including before the Great Recession, which devastated communities of color. Researchers from the Urban Institute, Duke University, The New School, and the Insight Center for Economic Development conducted a survey in this region and four others (Boston, Miami, Tulsa, and Los Angeles) in 2014, collecting information on household assets, liabilities, savings, and investments, and on homeownership, foreclosures, use of payday lenders, and demographics. Six hundred surveys were registered for the D.C. area."

"The researchers found that—as of a couple of years ago—white households in the region had a median net worth of $284,000 compared with $3,500 among black households, or 81 times more. (Net worth refers to assets minus debts.) Accounting for age also revealed stark differences. Among 31- to 51-year-olds, black households reported a median net worth of zero, versus $221,000 for their white peers. Meanwhile, among 51- to 65-year-olds, black households showed $4,000 in median net worth, versus $516,000 for white households—or 120 times more. In other words, wealth disparities associated with race rose with age."

"Net worth wasn't the only fiscal measure where the D.C. area's white and black residents diverged. As a spokeswoman for the Urban Institute highlights, white households were "24 percentage points more likely to have a checking account, 34 percentage points more likely to own stocks, 38 percentage points more likely to have a retirement fund, and 10 percentage points less likely to have a student loan" compared with black residents born in the U.S."

"'Discrimination and systemic racism have contributed to today's wealth gap in the nation's capital,' the authors write. 'Building wealth is hindered not by character flaws but by a history of structural barriers and practices that helped create wealth for White families and blocked asset building from Black families.'"

Read the full article: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blog/20839309/white-dc-area-households-have-a-net-worth-81-times-greater-than-black-ones