The Wealth Gap Across Race, Gender and Marriage Status

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July 31, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Here is a chart that not only shows the staggering wealth gap across the divides of race, gender and marriage status. It also maps many of the key dynamics and fault lines driving contemporary American politics.

Chart published by the Center for Community Economic Development, Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future, based on data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances Codebook, published by the Federal Reserve.

The chart illustrates a pattern that most of us probably do not find surprising. But the sheer chasm separating single white men from Black and Hispanic single women is still shocking to see visualized so clearly. Single white men have 438 times the assets as single Black women and 365 times that of single Hispanic women. As we can see, marriage is a huge determinant of wealth – but mainly if you’re not white, and especially if you’re a woman.

Note that the chart provides data for wealth with and without vehicles (in most cases, cars). Here I’ve referenced the latter statistic. As the report notes, owning a car is an important way to access more employment opportunities among other things. But that wealth is not easily accessible in dollar terms, which is highly relevant for the following reason. Great disparities of wealth not only have a huge impact on life opportunities and the prospects for wealth accumulation. They are hugely important factor in the precariousness of economic life experienced by different demographic groups.

At essentially zero net wealth, individuals are one job less, illness or major expense away from debt (often incurred at usurious rates) or even homelessness.

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