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The Average Black Family Would Need 228 Years to Build the Wealth of a White Family Today

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Just as past public policies created the racial wealth gap, current policy widens it.

Joshua Holland, the Nation

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https://www.thenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/racial_wealthgap_rtr_img.jpg In line to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. career fair held by the New York State Department of Labor. (Reuters / Lucas Jackson)

August 8, 2016 | If current economic trends continue, the average black household will need 228 years to accumulate as much wealth as their white counterparts hold today. For the average Latino family, it will take 84 years. Absent significant policy interventions, or a seismic change in the American economy, people of color will never close the gap.

Those are the key findings of a new study of the racial wealth-gap released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Corporation For Economic Development (CFED). They looked at trends in household wealth from 1983 to 2013—a 30-year period that captured the rise of Reaganomics, expanded international trade and two major financial crashes fueled by bubbles in the tech sector and housing prices. The authors found that the average wealth of white households increased by 84 percent during those three decades, three times the gains African-American families saw and 1.2 times the rate of growth for Latino families.

To put that in perspective, the wealthiest Americans—members of the Forbes 400 list—saw their net worths increase by 736 percent during that period, on average.

Joshua Holland is a contributor to the Nation <https://www.thenation.com> and a fellow with The Nation Institute. He's also the host of Politics and Reality Radio.

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