Brief How Do Wage Gaps Affect Black Women's Wealth Attainment, and Where Do Expenditures Fit In?
Michelle Holder
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Even as the wage gap between Black and white Americans in the United States has narrowed over the last several decades, the wealth gap between these two groups remains alarmingly wide. Most expositions on the barriers that have prevented Black wealth accumulation tend to focus on the household. However, research has shown that, when broken down by gender and race, Black women in the US possess the lowest levels of wealth compared to with white men, white women, and Black men.

In this brief, Holder addresses the impact of wage gaps and specific expenditures unique to Black women, hindering their income and asset accumulation. The brief surveys existing literature on income-wealth relationships and consumption patterns and includes a quantitative analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures and its limitations. The author presents a framework for examining the Black women’s wealth gap from the perspective of earnings gaps as well as expenditure burdens that Black women disproportionately face, which can drain income and asset accumulation.

Looking beyond income, Holder examines non-wage sources of wealth, such as homeownership and intergenerational wealth transfers. In doing so, it reveals intra-racial gender differences and elucidates the distinctive challenges confronted by Black women, encapsulated in the concept of the "double gap" arising from both race and gender wage differentials. The research proposes actionable policies designed to enhance income, address disparities in expenditures, and bolster the accumulation of wealth for Black women. Recommendations span from advocating for pay transparency in law and practice, stronger enforcement of antidiscrimination laws, baby bonds, student loan forgiveness, child care cost assistance, and reparations.

Research Areas Race and equity Wealth and financial well-being
Tags Asset and debts Black/African American communities Economic well-being Income and wealth distribution Wealth inequality Racial wealth gap Women and girls Race, gender, class, and ethnicity Employment and income data
Policy Centers Office of Race and Equity Research
Research Methods Quantitative data analysis Qualitative data analysis
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