Monday, July 6, 2009

Racial gaps getting worse, not better


Just in case you thought America was post-racial, new evidence shows that not only are we not getting closer to racial equality, we're getting farther away:
"For whites, America represents a society in which both rags and riches are distinct possibilities, but the reality tends to bend somewhat more toward the side of riches. 55% of white Americans will reach affluence at some point during their adulthood, and nearly half of whites who are homeowners at age 25 will accrue at least $100,000 worth of home equity by the time they reach age 50.

"On the other hand, the American experience for blacks is synonymous with poverty—nearly 90% of all black Americans will encounter poverty in their lives, while only 13% will attain a level of affluence. Blacks are also approximately two times more likely than whites not to have enough savings to get them through tough times."

I don't always trust studies (research methods vary and are not always trustworthy) but they are still closer than most get to objectivity and worthy of consideration. Read the rest of the article:

Widening racial gap exists in key factors for economic well-being, according to new study

6 comments:

  1. So much for progress, huh? Here's hoping things start changing for the better really soon.

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  2. Is there any reason to think it's actually widening, or is that just journalist hype? That it exists (or that it's large) is only evidence that it's widening if it didn't exist (or was small) in the past, which seems like a dubious suggestion.

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  3. Anonymous, I don't really see evidence of your claim in the quote above or the linked source. It states pretty clearly that over the past thirty years, the gap in affluence has widened and not narrowed, as popular opinion would lead us to believe.

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  4. RMJ

    The linked article doesn't say anything about how the gap is changed over time (though it mentions they have data from ~30 years, there's no mention of trends, time bins, anything like this). Merely that the current gap is quite large. The article's title suggests the gap is widening, but that's not anywhere in the story, and certainly not in any quotes. My gut reaction then is that it's not coming from the study, but from some editor who spent only a fraction of a jiffy coming up with an eye-grabbing title. Am I missing something?

    As a confession, I'm simply not old enough to know how big the gap was 30 years ago, and in the ~10 year baseline of my life where I've been cognisant of race enough to realise there's a practical difference (okay, maybe ~15, whatever), there hasn't been an obvious, enormous shift. But I'm not even an American, so this study doesn't apply to where I live, and my own experience is thus useless anyways.

    That the gap is large today is pretty obvious. That it's widen significantly in the last 30 years is obviously not obvious if it's not popularly believed, and does seem dubious, but you'd probably need to be at least 50 to know that first hand.

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  5. Anon, the study's author suggests that in the opening quote.

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  6. Okay, unless I'm wrong, the opening quote of the article is "With President Obama now approaching six months in office, some have suggested that we have gone beyond race as a major dividing line in society. Yet nothing could be further from the truth", followed by "One of the fundamental fault lines in American society continues to be the ongoing racial disparities in economic well-being."

    Neither of these communicate to me in any way that the gap is any wider than it ever was, only that it still exists (as it has for some large amount of time). What am I missing?

    If it was widely known that there was no racial gap in economic well being in 1979, then knowing there's one today would imply it's widened. Of course, there was a giant one in 1979, so knowing there's a large one today tells me nothing about the rate of change. I don't see the author, or even the article, saying it's widened, only the title.

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