Racial inequality in the United States: analyzing the wealth gap
Recent analyses of economic well-being by race have shifted their focus from income inequality to the wealth gap. Dr. Melvin L. Oliver and Dr. Thomas M. Shapiro's pioneering work in Black Wealth/White Wealth: New Perspective on Racial Inequality (1995) suggests that public policies designed to achieve racial equality by closing the income gap are insufficient to address the depth of inequality revealed by the wealth gap. This thesis builds on their work, using 2001 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and an adapted model to gauge changes in wealth holdings during the 1990's. Key findings include the negative association between race and gender in acquiring wealth; African-Americans, especially single-parent females, are disproportionately marginalized in wealth accumulation. Policy recommendations contribute to emerging deliberations on asset-based welfare policy and revising affirmative action criteria to account for class status. Specific instruments to advance low-income homeownership and provide opportunities to increase asset ownership for poor women are suggested as means to achieve racial equality.