Local Data Are Key to Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

Blog post by Leah Hendey, Lamar Gardere
July 1, 2024

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)
The Data Center   (New Orleans)

The racial wealth gap is a powerful number—it captures the structural racism that’s been baked into the American economy and social institutions, continued uneven opportunities, and hopes for a future of shared prosperity

But limited data on wealth exist. Well-respected national surveys like the Survey of Consumer Finances or Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) provide broad insights but don’t allow for the local data necessary to fully understand community members’ lives and the local root causes of wealth disparities. This makes it hard to develop trusted solutions to those problems.

The limited local data we do have are powerful. Recent surveys revealed the average white household in the DC metropolitan area has 81 times the wealth of a Black household. This research catalyzed action across the region, including the creation of DC Council’s Office of Racial Equity, motivating arguments for reparations, powering advocacy for racially just tax and budget decisions, and supporting community wealth building.

For nearly 30 years, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) members have understood the power of local data to help communities develop a shared understanding and be used as a transformative tool to shape strategies and investments so all neighborhoods are places people can thrive. Urban, as the national partner in NNIP, partnered with the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC) to help our members inform local efforts to build Black wealth.

The NNIP partner in New Orleans, The Data Center, has developed a new methodology for producing local disaggregated wealth estimates (PDF), which localities across the country can use to uncover wealth gaps, develop solutions, and measure progress toward their goals.

Continue on Urban Wire.