The Racial Wealth Gap Is Growing

The Racial Wealth Gap Is Growing

The Urban Institute is the bearer of bad news: the wealth gap between whites and minorities in the U.S. is even larger than the income gap. And it's been growing, even as all groups have lost wealth during the recession years:

The four authors drill down into data from the Survey of Consumer Finances to find out what's gone wrong. Over the course of the recession, Hispanics lost badly in the housing market, while black Americans saw their retirement accounts badly depleted:

The researchers write that the fact that minorities "were not on good wealth-building paths before this financial crisis calls into question whether a whole range of policies (from tax to safety net) have actually been helping minorities get ahead in the modern economy. More fundamentally, it raises the question of whether social welfare policies pay too little attention to wealth building and mobility relative to consumption and income."

The American Interest's Walter Russell Mead, seizing on the report, thinks that there's some key context that's not being discussed:

But the Times carefully tip-toes around several land mines in this story. For one, it avoids any suggestion that certain political actors may have had anything to do with the problems facing minority families in the sluggish economy: So blacks got hosed in the “last five years” or “since the recession” rather than “under the Obama administration.” The piece also does its best to downplay the role that liberal Democrats played in luring underprivileged minorities into the housing market just as the bubble really began to inflate.

Another way to put it: Despite the best intentions in the world, Democrats simply haven’t come up with any policies that actually help their most loyal constituency group.

Joseph Lawler is editor of RealClearPolicy. He can be reached by email or on twitter.

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