American Sociological Association

A Penny on the Dollar: Racial Inequalities in Wealth among Households with Children

The dynamics of racial/ethnic wealth inequality among U.S. families with resident children (child households) have been understudied, a major oversight because of wealth’s impact on child development and intergenerational mobility. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (2004–2016), the authors find that wealth gaps between black and white households are larger in, and have grown faster for, child households relative to the general population. In contrast, black-white income gaps for child households have remained largely unchanged. Wealth trends for black and Hispanic child households have diverged, and by 2016, Hispanic child households had more net worth than black child households. Between 2004 and 2016, home ownership rates and home equity levels for black child households decreased, while educational debt increased. In 2016, black child households had just one cent for every dollar held by non-Hispanic white child households. These findings depict the extreme wealth fragility of black child households. 

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Christine Percheski and Christina Gibson-Davis