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The Racial Divide: Socio-Economic Inequality NOT a Thing of the Past

By Nathan Schmitt

A study released today by the Economic Mobility Project

In brief, trends show that median family incomes have risen for both black
and white families, but less so for black families. Moreover, the intergenerational
analysis reveals a significant difference in the extent to which parents are able
to pass their economic advantages onto their children. Whereas children of white
middle-income parents tend to exceed their parents in income, a majority of black
children of middle-income parents fall below their parents in income and economic
” (1)

This is also rather disturbing, considering how much people think that the playing field has leveled out in the past few decades:

Startlingly, almost half (45 percent) of black children whose parents were
solidly middle class end up falling to the bottom of the income distribution,
compared to only 16 percent of white children. Achieving middle-income
status does not appear to protect black children from future economic
adversity the same way it protects white children.
” (1)

The L.A. Daily News has a good summary of the data (The graph above shows this data visually):

“Median incomes for white families, with wage earners in their 30s, increased from $50,262 in 1974 to $60,000 in 2004, when adjusted for inflation. That is an increase of 19percent.

Median incomes for black families of the same age group increased from $31,833 in 1974 to $35,010 in 2004, a gain of 10percent.

Median incomes for white men in their 30s were relatively stagnant, dropping slightly from $41,885 in 1974 to $40,081 in 2004.

Median incomes for white women of the same age group increased more than fivefold, from $4,021 in 1974 to $22,030 in 2004.

Median incomes for black men in their 30s dropped, from $29,095 in 1974 to $25,600 in 2004.

Median incomes for black women of the same age group nearly doubled, from $12,063 in 1974 to $21,000 in 2004.” (2)

Here are a couple of other studies that relate to this one in that they deal with the economic mobility of specific demographics. They’re really short and very interesting. It seems that America’s opportunity isn’t quite as equal as we would like to think.

In summary:

One reason for the growing disparity: Incomes among black men have actually declined in the past three decades, when adjusted for inflation. They were offset only by gains among black women.

Incomes among white men, meanwhile, were relatively stagnant, while those of white women increased more than fivefold.” (3)


November 13, 2007 Posted by | Economics, Income Gap, Nathan Schmitt | , | Leave a comment