America’s Widening Wealth Gap: Your Take

Zeal Harris/Flickr

"Grace" Mixed Media on Wood, by Zeal Harris

Earlier today, The Diane Rehm show discussed how the widening wealth gap in America is marginalizing African American and Hispanic families:

That’s the finding of a new study by the Pew Research Center. The median wealth of whites is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households. And though the recession cut across all races and ethnicities, Hispanics were especially hard hit. Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth in the last few years.

Some listeners took the time to comment on the show’s official site. Commenter
had a request:

Please include in this discussion how the role out of wedlock births and the exploding number of single parent households figure into these wealth gap figures. Single parent households, black 70%, hispanic 50%, white 30%.

The effect of government welfare subsidies that in reality destroy the work ethic of minority groups. Also the cultural disrespect of education.

This Black Voices article from 2010 corroborates those numbers for single-parent households; “Compared to the 72 percent in our communities, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008″.

Another commenter who uses the handle “b23erlin” took issue with Monte:

Monte is unfortunately missing the point. It is true that social problems such as single parent households reduce the overall wealth of the society. But the urgent issue at the moment is not that. Rather it is the explosion of ultra-high incomes which came about as a result of the great capital expansion of the 1980′s…Add to that the near disappearance of the skilled worker class and you have a dangerous erosion of the very foundations of society. No society which has impoverished its people and neglected its core values has thrived over a long period. The self-serving attitudes of our rich are helping push us downwards.

Listener Emilio‘s comment was a reminder that many Americans thought they’d invest in and reap financial rewards from owning their own homes:

The minorities paid for it, but what will happen to the predators(loan and mortgage company? Do they get to keep the money or they will pay for it? And how come Financial Education is not obligatory in schools, just like math?

Robert Cox
posed an interesting question:

Is this at all an after-effect of post-war wealth? The (very white) generation that made a lot of money after WWII is beginning to die, leaving their wealth to their kids and grandkids?

…as did Tom from Grand:

Isn’t comparing wealth or income averages across such large and disparate groups (such as all whites/all blacks/all Hispanics), a crude approach to understanding the growing wealth and income gap in the U.S.? Aren’t there about 3 times more poor whites than poor blacks? It seems low income whites often get neglected in these race/ethnicity-based discussions. All low-income folks of all races are losing, and all upper-income folks of all races are gaining.

My colleague Elahe Izadi sat down with a guest from the show, Roderick Harrison, senior research fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to find out how the wealth gap is affecting local residents; her post is here.