Wealth Inequalities in Greater Boston: Do Race and Ethnicity Matter?

Boston skyline with bridge in the middle

Typically, the emphasis on economic inclusion for US families has focused on income.

Yet wealth is a better measure of economic position, as it provides a store of value and funds to invest in education, business creation, home purchase, and savings for retirement, all of which iteratively can be used to generate more wealth via savings from asset income. Racial wealth inequality, however, vastly outstrips the magnitude of racial income inequality, with black households only possessing roughly 5-10 percent the wealth of white households.

The major goal of this paper is to fill the void concerning the relationship between ancestral origin and wealth-building experience in specific geographic contexts, using the Boston MSA as a case study. Evidence of different wealth gaps across country of origin may both suggest both different causes of the wealth disparity and, relatedly, different remedies.

Key Findings

  • While the median wealth for a white household is $247,500, the median value for a US-born black household is a mere $8. Caribbean blacks, by comparison, have a median household wealth of $12,000.
  • Among nonwhite communities, Dominicans report comparatively low asset levels and high debt, while Caribbean blacks report relatively higher levels of wealth.