Social Security and the Racial Wealth Gap
26 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2023
Date Written: September 2023
In the United States, the median Black household earns 30 percent less per adult than the median White household, yet the latter has over six times more marketable wealth than the former. We revisit this puzzle by expanding our wealth concept to include the present value of social security payments. Once social security wealth is accounted for, the racial wealth gap has narrowed over the last 30 years. In 1989, the median White American household owned over four times more total wealth than their Black and Hispanic American counterparts, but under twice as much in 2019. We argue for the importance of including social security in our study of wealth inequality, because of the role it plays in shaping the marketable wealth distribution and the recent rise in its value.
Keywords: wealth, inequality, Social Security, racial wealth differences
JEL Classification: D31, D63, H55, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation