By Lynn Stuart Parramore
June 30, 2020
Since the 2008 economic collapse, Hamilton’s research with economist Christopher Famighetti shows Black college graduates have faced bigger barriers in the housing market compared to whites. This flies in the face of the truism that a college degree translates into economic security. Their research reveals that Black households headed by a college graduate tend to have less wealth than white households headed by a high-school dropout.
Americans have not wanted to hear this story, partly because it goes against the cherished national narrative that education and hard work are the tickets to success in America. Many people continue to cite bad individual decisions or ill-founded notions of personal or group deficits as the reasons for widespread racial inequality, rather than discrimination that’s baked into America’s economic pie.
But as Duke University economist William Darity explains, “wealth is both a safety net and a trampoline.” It helps you weather the hard times, and it gives you the freedom to take risks. The 2008 economic collapse disproportionately hit the wealth of Black Americans, Darity’s research shows, and by 2013, Black median family wealth had sunk to $13,487, from $24,318 in 2007. Many never recovered.