Understanding the Black-White Wealth Gap in the United States

28 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021 Last revised: 27 Apr 2021

See all articles by Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh

University of California, Santa Cruz

Date Written: April 26, 2021


This paper examines the relationship between wealth holdings and patterns of various household characteristics, including education, occupation, wealth portfolio structures and inheritance. The focus is on comparing the wealth levels of Black and White Americans, and relating differences in these levels to socio-economic characteristics. We find that a combination of inheritance, education and occupation is significantly related to differences in wealth levels. However, household characteristics such as education, homeownership or business ownership are not by themselves pathways to reducing wealth gaps, let alone eliminating them. Financial literacy also does not appear to play a role in explaining the wealth gap.

Keywords: wealth inequality, racial inequality, education, inheritance, wealth patterns

JEL Classification: D31, D63, G51, J15

Suggested Citation

Singh, Nirvikar, Understanding the Black-White Wealth Gap in the United States (April 26, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3800592 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3800592

Nirvikar Singh (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

Department of Economics
E2 Building
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-4093 (Phone)
831-459-5077 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics