African American children are suffering long-term disadvantages as a result of vast and growing disparities in the wealth of US families, with Black families with kids having access to barely 1 cent for every dollar enjoyed by their white counterparts.
Wealth Inequality and Child Development, a compilation of the latest research published by the Russell Sage Foundation, new research by scholars on US inequality shows that the basic wealth levels of families from different racial and ethnic backgrounds have diverged to such a stark degree in the past three decades that the future prospects of children from lower-wealth groups are likely to be grossly compromised.
In 2019, the median wealth level for a white family with children in the US was $63,838.
The same statistic for a Black family with children was $808. Among Black families homeownership is much less common, as are savings or inheritance, which collectively shrinks the median wealth to the paltry figure of $808.
Hispanic families with kids fare little better. They have a median wealth of $3,175, which equates to 5 cents for every dollar of wealth in an equivalent white household.
Christina Gibson-Davis, a professor of public policy and sociology at Duke University who is co-editor of the new research, pointed to one of its central findings – that wealth inequality between American families has become so extreme that 1% of parents control 44% of all wealth held by households with children, while the top 10% control 82%.
“When the top 10% of parents control 82% of all the wealth in child households, that opens up opportunities and choices they make for their children that are not available to the bottom 90%,” Gibson-Davis said. “Wealth is so stratified by race and ethnicity that it perpetuates that racial inequality into the next generation,” Gibson-David explained. “ We are OK with having winners and losers in the childhood wealth lottery. White kids born to well-educated parents are going to enjoy relatively high levels of wealth – the vast majority of kids don’t have that luxury.”