Umbrellas Don’t Make It Rain: Why Studying and Working Hard Isn’t Enough for Black Americans

man sitting down leaning over on knees with his hand resting on his head

Racial wealth differences cannot be explained by education, employment, or income.

Economists estimate that, by far, the largest factors explaining these differences are gifts and inheritances from older generations: a down payment on a first home, a debt-free college education, or a bequest from a parent.

Given the roles of intergenerational wealth transfer, and past and present barriers that have kept black families from building wealth, private action and market forces alone cannot be expected to address wide-scale racial wealth inequality. Public sector intervention is needed.