Running the Numbers on Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

numbers in spreadsheet on piece of paper with a pair of glasses and calculator on top

Key Findings

  • The median black household possesses ten cents to every dollar of wealth that the typical white household has ($17,600 vs. $171,000, respectively), creating an absolute dollar of $153,400.
  • When considering the mean net worth of each group, however, the absolute dollar difference rises more than five-fold, to $795,000.
  • In short, none of the mechanisms the leading democratic candidates posit for closing the racial wealth gap—from increasing opportunities for homeownership, entrepreneurship, and education to trust fund accounts assigned to each newborn, also known as “baby bonds”—come close to resolving this gap.
  • However, more direct measures like “baby bonds” generally have a larger impact than tangential efforts. Proposals such as Marianne Williamson’s call for reparations hold promise, but to fully alleviate the gulf in wealth, direct payments must be on the scale of $10 trillion—far beyond what Williamson has proposed.