Latinas Think Big forum tackles wealth gap

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
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Ana Patricia Muñoz, assistant vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and co-author of the 2016 report, “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” discussed some sobering findings and implications of her research at the Latinas Think Big summit April 12, 2016, at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge. The event centered on the topic of racial and ethnic wealth disparities and potential pathways to economic prosperity for Latina women in light of the wealth gap.

Whites in Boston are far more likely than nonwhites to own all types of financial assets such as savings, stocks, retirement accounts — “by huge margins,” she noted in a conversation with Dr. Dharma Cortés. This mirrors a national wealth gap that has come to light in recent years. In addition, nonwhites tend to carry heavier student loan and medical debt burdens, hindering the pace of asset building. The wealth gap has developed over hundreds of years, Muñoz explained, with roots in policies that include slavery, land-taking from Mexicans, redlining that prevented home loans in black neighborhoods, unequal racial/ethnic benefits from the huge public money expenditures of the New Deal, and predatory subprime lending to blacks and Latinos in the run-up to the recent recession.

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