The Color of Wealth in Boston

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Key Findings

  • Nonwhite households have only a fraction of the net worth attributed to white households. While white households have a median wealth of $247,500, Dominicans and U.S. blacks have a median wealth of close to zero. Of all nonwhite groups for which estimates could be made, Caribbean black households have the highest median wealth with $12,000, which is only 5 percent of the wealth attributed to white households in the Boston MSA.
  • The typical white household in Boston is more likely than nonwhite households to own every type of liquid asset. For example, close to half of Puerto Ricans and a quarter of U.S. blacks don’t have either a savings or checking account, compared to only 7% of whites.
  • Whites and nonwhites also exhibit important differences in assets that associated with homeownership, basic transportation, and retirement. Close to 80% of whites own a home, whereas only one-third of U.S. blacks, less than one-fifth of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, and only half of Caribbean blacks are homeowners. And while most white households (56 percent) own retirement accounts, only one-fifth of U.S and Caribbean blacks, and 8 percent of Dominicans have them.
  • Although members of communities of color are less likely to own homes, among homeowners they are more likely to have mortgage debt. Nonwhite households are more likely than whites to have student loans and medical debt.
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