Home > Uncategorized > This Just In: Whites’ Inheritances Yield More Wealth than Hard Work by Non-White Minorities

This Just In: Whites’ Inheritances Yield More Wealth than Hard Work by Non-White Minorities

March 12, 2017

Channel3000 blogpost by David Dahmer reports what any clear thinking individual already knew: White Inheritance is the key driver in the wealth gap between them and any other non-white minority group. Here are the first four paragraphs of his post:

“Blacks/Latinos/non-whites don’t value education like whites do. They don’t work as hard as whites do. They spend more than whites do on junk,” says your standard white guy at the end of the bar dissecting the large racial wealth gap in the United States. “They just need to get off their butts and bootstrap it up like I did!”

However, the old tried-and-true American bootstrap lore took a big hit this month with a study that shows most families living with the material comfort and range of opportunities normally associated with middle-class status have obtained them the old-fashioned way: inheritance. The racial and wealth gap in the United States is as large as ever and “The Asset Value of Whiteness: Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap,” shows that inheritance plays a huge factor in that gap.

“For centuries, white households enjoyed wealth-building opportunities that were systematically denied to people of color. Today our policies continue to impede efforts by African-American and Latino households to obtain equal access to economic security,” Amy Traub, report co-author and associate director of policy and research at Demos said in a statement. “When research shows that racial privilege now outweighs a fundamental key to economic mobility, like higher education, we must demand our policymakers acknowledge this problem and create policies that address structural inequity.”

In short, the study found that white people inherit stuff and have inherited stuff for generations. And that gives them a supreme advantage. The report shows that typical markers of success in white households – and the chosen interventions in the lives of others – are not translating into lasting wealth and security in households of color.

The Demos Study and the article both make it clear that “inheritances” aren’t of the Rockefeller variety. They are rather modest but ultimately make a difference in opportunities— they give people the bootstraps needed to pull themselves up. Dahmer explains:

To be sure, when we talk of inheritance, we are not always talking about huge sums of money. Even modest gifts at opportune moments can be huge – going to college, buying a first home, enrolling a child in private school. The previous generations have used the fruits of their own life’s work to safeguard a middle-class existence for offspring who have not yet earned it on their own.

My wife and I both have instances in our lives where a “modest gift at (an) opportune moment” made a difference. The small loan I got to make a downpayment on my first home. The small inheritance my wife received that enabled her to acquire more acreage for a farmstead in Vermont. The “bridge loans” I got when I was changing jobs on one occasion. We’ve provided the same kind of small financial loans or gifts to our children… and they can make the difference between getting deep into debt or missing out on an opportunity to get a new house at a reasonable price.

If minority families cannot provide this kind of support, what can be done? Professor Thomas Shapiro has some ideas:

“I think on a local, regional, and state level, there are different levers that we have to work with. I think on a local level, housing markets are the real key. I think attempting to break down racial segregation as much as possible in a community really serves the sustainable long-term interests,” Shapiro said. “It’s residential segregation that really drives the way that housing equity is color-coded and it’s abundantly clear from any study that’s ever looked at data.”

The study closes with a push for policymakers to evaluate proposed policies for their potential to shrink the wealth gap between races in America. Shapiro said he is optimistic about the progress he has seen recently.

“Five years ago, there were five people in the world that when you said ‘racial wealth gap’ that they would know what you meant,” said Shapiro, admitting that he might be going over the top a little bit with his numbers. “That’s no longer the case. There’s been a lot of empirical work about what the racial wealth gap is. There are a lot of folks who are working on it, studies on it. I dare say that the phrase ‘racial wealth gap’ has been sort of branded, at least in some of the public’s mind. They know what it is already.

We now know the racial wealth gap exists and, and Dammer shows in his article, it is demonstrably unrelated to hard work or poor morals. Now we need to take the steps to remedy the situation.

  1. Byron Knutsen
    March 13, 2017 at 3:50 am

    I am for making opportunities that require commitment by the receivers to improve their lives. But not more handouts of money and other “stuff”.

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