Black residents in Boston are buried under hefty debts, only having an $8 median net worth. Many readers though it was a typo when The Boston Globe‘s Spotlight team included that statistic in its new series on racism in the city.
The city’s non-immigrant African Americans have the second-lowest median net worth, only heading Dominicans who have a dismal $0, according to “The Color of Wealth in Boston,” a 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Duke University and the New School. The staggeringly low number suggested something has impeded the growth of Black wealth in Boston, selected as a site of study allowing researchers to “disaggregate data among subgroups within broader racial categories.”
Researchers surveyed 403 people from various racial groups: “multigenerational African Americans, Caribbean Blacks (including Haitians), Cape Verdeans (both Black and White), Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.” The household median net worth was $247,500 for Whites, $12,000 for Caribbean Blacks and $3,020 for Puerto Ricans. Researchers concluded that the debts among residents have matched or outweighed the worth of their assets, especially concerning for Blacks and Dominicans who felt at the lower end of the scale. The problem of lower net worths has arisen as a result of more financial liabilities.
It has long been thought that personal savings make up a large part of the wealth picture. But the report, part of a five-city study looking at wealth disparities among communities of color, considers that wealth includes financial (savings and checking accounts, money market funds, etc.) and tangible (houses, vehicles, and other real estate) assets. “A lot of people have the impression that the major way in which people amass wealth is through savings out of their income,” said William A. Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University who was one of the lead investigators of the study.
Solutions to challenge the lower net worth of Blacks in the city must be weighed with ways to combat racism in the city.
SOURCE: The Boston Globe