This blog post is written by Katherine Liu, Communications Intern with Heartland Alliance. ...Read more
About this Policy
The racial wealth divide in the United States is driven by public policies and institutional practices that provide different opportunities for different groups of people. Past and current policies continue to benefit white households while disproportionately harming households of color.
In order to understand the extent of these racist policies, we must look beyond income measurements and look at household wealth. Wealth is the measure of the amount an individual owns minus what they owe. Wealth is crucial because if gives families a financial cushion. It allows them to weather a financial crisis, purchase and maintain a home, save for retirement, and support their children’s college aspirations. Our policies aim to build racial equity by removing barriers and creating opportunities for families of color to build wealth across their lifetime.
Racial Wealth Divide Nationally
Growing Inequity: The median white household had $111,146 in wealth in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. In other words, the median white household had 16 times the wealth of black households and 13 times the wealth of Latino households. In fact, in the past 25 years the wealth divide between white households and black households has quadrupled. Learn More.
Racial Wealth Divide in Illinois
Financially Vulnerability: Liquid asset poverty is a measure of the liquid savings households have to cover basic expenses for three months if they experienced a sudden job loss, a medical emergency or another financial crisis leading to a loss of stable income. 30% of white households in Illinois are liquid asset poor compared to 65% of black households and 66% of Hispanic households. The following data points from the Illinois Poverty Report shed light on some of the systems that perpetuate this wealth inequity:
- Black children in Illinois are nearly 4 times more likely to live below the poverty line than white children.
- The Illinois school districts with the most students of color receive 16% less in funding per student than districts serving the fewest students of color.
- Unemployment rates are far higher for black Illinois workers than whites at every educational level.
- Illinoisans of color are 2 to 3 times more likely to not have health insurance.
These disparities threaten the economic and social well-being of our state. The racial wealth divide that exists between whites and people of color requires a systemic response. Our policy agenda aims to help close the racial wealth divide in Illinois.
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