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What Is Behind the Persistence of the Racial Wealth Gap?

Dionissi Aliprantis and Daniel Carroll

Economic Commentary, 2019, issue February

Abstract: Most studies of the persistent gap in wealth between whites and blacks have investigated the large gap in income earned by the two groups. Those studies generally concluded that the wealth gap was ?too big? to be explained by differences in income. We study the issue using a different approach, capturing the dynamics of wealth accumulation over time. We find that the income gap is the primary driver behind the wealth gap and that it is large enough to explain the persistent difference in wealth accumulation. The key policy implication of our work is that policies designed to speed the closing of the racial wealth gap would do well to focus on closing the racial income gap.

Date: 2019
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