Why the Racial Wealth Gap Persists

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The Takeaway - WNYC Radio

For white people living in the Boston area, the median net worth for their household is $247,500. For African-American, the median net worth is eight dollars.

That’s according to William "Sandy" Darity, a public policy professor and director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, who studied this with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Psychologists at Yale published a study last year that found that Americans, and higher-income whites in particular, vastly overestimate progress toward economic equality between blacks and whites. In fact, the racial wealth gap is a problem that’s persistent, and has barely changed over time, even outside of Boston.

For every dollar in wealth that white families have, black families hold just five to 10 cents. And that large gap is true across the board.

"Black households where the head has a college degree at the median have less wealth than white households where the head has never finished high school," says Darity. 

The Takeaway spoke with Sandy Darity about the racial wealth gap as part of our week long look at the state of wealth in America, and how decisions and policies made over 200 years ago continue to affect us today.

Listen to the full segment here.