Study Outlines Policy Steps to Reduce Racial Wealth Gap

March 10, 2015 | | Boston Globe |

If black families had the same opportunitites that white families have to increase their incomes through investments, retirement plans, and other asset-building measures, it would reduce the wealth gap between the two groups by nearly $45,000, or 43 percent, according to a report out Tuesday. For Latino families, it would reduce the gap by more than almost $52,000, or 50 percent.

Similarly, if rates of home ownership were equalized, the wealth gap would decrease by 31 percent for black families and 28 percent for Latinos.

The report, by Brandeis University and the New York public policy organization Demos, found that the significant wealth divide between white households and those of people of color is exacerbated by historically unjust public policies, and changes to policies that affect home ownership, education, and income could go a long way toward reducing these racial inequities.

The median white household had assets of $111,146 in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for Latinos. [...]

“The racial wealth gap is large because we instituted it in public policy historically and continue to make public policies that exacerbate the problems,” said report coauthor Catherine Ruetschlin, a senior policy analyst at Demos. The goal, she said, “is to find new opportunities to address the way that we’re constantly perpetuating this disparity between black, white and Latino families.”