Brief Centering Black Women in Income and Wealth Policymaking
Diana Elliott, Fay Walker
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Black women face the greatest income and wealth disparities relative to most other groups when looking at race, ethnicity, and gender. These inequities have deep-seated roots in structural racism, and familial and caregiving obligations compound them. Program design and policymaking rarely confront the root causes and complicated intersections of race and gender to improve income and wealth outcomes.

Why This Matters

Outcomes for all Americans could improve by centering Black women in income- and wealth-building research, policy, and program design. Focusing on Black women allows us to examine the complicated interrelationships between history and the present day, the need for individual- and systems-level changes on several fronts to tackle the issues at hand, and how income and wealth inequities are tied together.

What We Found

Prioritizing how policy decisions would impact Black women’s income and wealth outcomes is an important goal for evaluating priorities and investments. Policymakers should also advance the voices of Black women, generating outcomes and policies Black women would most like to see. Including Black women-led organizations and the voices of those most directly impacted in decisionmaking could spark new ideas and focus investments appropriately.

Many policy proposals currently being discussed at the municipal, state, and federal levels would broadly impact Black women, even when the policies aim for universal coverage. These proposals include

  • establishing baby bonds,
  • forgiving student loans,
  • providing small capital to Black women,
  • enacting universal health care coverage,
  • addressing labor market discrimination and expanding access to quality jobs, and
  • expanding child care funding and assistance.

With deliberate and thoughtful policymaking, we can close the income and wealth gaps that Black women most often experience and advance equitable approaches for everyone. By exploring multiple intersections—race and gender, income and wealth, past and present—we can find paths forward for advancing the economic mobility and prosperity of Black women and all Americans.

Research Areas Wealth and financial well-being Social safety net Economic mobility and inequality
Tags Racial and ethnic disparities Black/African American communities Economic well-being Race and equity in grantmaking
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center
Research Methods Data collection