Black Reparations and Child Well-Being: A Framework and Policy Considerations

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Black Reparations and Child Well-Being: A Framework and Policy Considerations

The following is a working paper. The version attached is dated September 20, 2023.

Authors: Lisa A. Gennetian, Christina Gibson-Davis, & William A. Darity Jr.

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide a child-centric framework for reparations and the resulting policy considerations and implications for child descendants of enslaved African Americans. We apply economic theory of human capital integrated with the theories of bioecological developmental systems to illustrate the multilayered aspects of harm from the legacy of slavery and racism and the potential positive ripple effects of a child-centric reparations policy strategy. In addition, we show that, relative to white peers, black children bear more than double the risk in outcomes unfavorable to educational and economic prosperity from birth through young adulthood. We also find that enduring racial wealth differences are larger among households with children than without children, with the child household racial wealth gap in 2019 remaining comparable to that seen 60 years ago. Simulations suggest that a wealth transfer of $130,000 per child during early childhood reduces the black-white gap in high school graduation by 13 percentage points and increases college attendance by 26 percentage points. We review current federal, state, and local reparations initiatives and find that few propose cash or wealth transfers or direct investments in black families or their children. Based on a contemporary survey, black parents with young children express support for reparations in the form of direct cash payments as well as other forms of financial assistance.