The racial wealth gap is a term that refers to the economic disparities between races in America. These gaps are caused by many factors, including differences in income and educational attainment, homeownership rates, and inheritance. But one of the most important reasons for these divides is systemic racism.
The racial wealth gap is a persistent problem in the United States. This divide has many causes, including systemic racism and historical discrimination that have prevented people of color from building assets. These factors are reflected in various economic indicators, such as homeownership rates and income levels.
The starkest divides are in household wealth. It is the difference between what families own minus what they owe and median family income. In 2016, white households had $171,000 more than black households in net worth (assets minus debt). And while white Americans earned just over $62,000 per year on average that same year, black Americans brought home roughly $36,400 annually.
When you look at the data by age group instead of race or ethnicity alone, you see that young adults across all races face similar challenges related to student loan debt and low wages. But older generations also struggle with these issues.
For example, African American seniors were twice as likely as their white counterparts to report having difficulty paying medical bills. As we work toward closing this gap through policies like increasing access to affordable housing and expanding tax credits for lower-income families, we must remember how far we still have left to go before everyone can enjoy financial security regardless of race or ethnicity.
Systemic racism has contributed to the persistence of race-based gaps manifest in many economic indicators. The starkest divides are in income and net worth, which means white families have more money than black families. But there’s also a large divide when it comes to unemployment rates as well as incarceration rates (which disproportionately affect black people)
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