The vast wealth gap between black and white women in the United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
The Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Women of all races in the United States don’t get paid as much as men for doing the same job, but the financial discrepancies for black women are especially troubling. That’s not just in terms of income—black women bring home 63 cents (compared to 75 cents for white women) for every dollar a white man earns—but also in terms of wealth. A new report looks at household wealth between black and white women and find that black women face a glaring gap in terms of wealth in comparison to men as well as to white women.

The report, by Khaing Zaw, Anne Price, William Darity, Jr., all of Duke University, Jhumpa Bhattacharya of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, and Darrick Hamilton of The New School of Social Research, is important in an era in which women are increasingly playing the role of breadwinner and a growing number of men are dropping out of the labor force all together. But as the authors point out, black women face more significant roadblocks despite having the highest growth rate of college enrollment of any other group.

The authors of the report look at patterns of household wealth between black and white women, separating the results out by education and marital status, both of which are traditionally seen as a factor in women’s wealth accumulation. They find that marriage and education do have a significant impact on how much wealth white women amass compared to married and/or educated black women, who only see slight increases—and the wealth gap is even wider compared to single, uneducated women. (See Figure 1.)

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