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White Family Wealth 20 times more than Black Family Wealth

Taylor Media Services | 5/27/2010, 10:47 a.m.

Wealth Gap Between Blacks and Whies has Soared Since 1984Over the last 23 years, the growth in wealth for the typical white family has grown four times faster than that for the typical Black family. According to an explosive new study by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, the median family wealth for whites now stands at roughly $100,000 while median family wealth for African American families stands at $5,000 - barely increasing over the past quarter century.

"Wealth" is essentially defined as what a family owns minus what it owes. This most recent study does not include home ownership and it covers the period from 1984 to 2007. During that period, median white family wealth jumped from $22,000 to $100,000. Median Black family wealth hardly grew at all standing at $5,000 - roughly where it was in 1984.

The report charges that policy mistakes - like former President Bush's tax cuts for the wealth and ongoing discrimination largely account for the "wealth gap" between Blacks and whites.

Indeed, over the past quarter century, wealth became more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The study found that the richest one percent of the U.S. population owns close to 40 percent of the wealth. As for African Americans, 10 percent of families had no net wealth in 2007 but instead had an average debt of $3,600.

Even more incredible, the average middle-income white household accumulated $74,000 in wealth during the 1984 to 2007 period while the average high income Black family actually saw its wealth drop from $18,000 to $7,000.

Tom Shapiro, one of the authors of the report, said of its findings, "I'm a pretty jaded and cynical researcher in some way, but this was shocking, quite frankly, a really important dynamic. This represents a broken chain of achievement."