Racial Wealth Equity Chartbook: National Trends and the Challenge of Local Data

Blog post by Peter Ciurczak, Boston Indicators, Luc Schuster, Boston Indicators, Eunjung Jee, Institute for Economic and Racial Equity, Tatjana Meschede, Institute for Economic and Racial Equity, Sylvia Stewart, Institute for Economic and Racial Equity
May 16, 2023

Boston Indicators   (Boston)

Income is like a stream. It flows by. You can collect what you need from it at any one moment, but, if it runs dry, you’ll be left thirsty. Wealth on the other hand is like diverting that stream into a reservoir. If the stream runs dry, you’ll still have plenty to drink. If your water needs increase, you have that back-up resource without needing to worry about conditions in the moment.

But access to wealth means so much more than security against hard times. Wealth determines where you live, the quality of schools your children attend, whether banks will offer you a loan to buy a house or open a business, whether you’ll have comfortable care as you age, and how much you can give to the next generation.

Both in Massachusetts and in the nation as a whole, there’s been growing recognition of troubling wealth disparities based on race, ethnicity, income and education. To provide a baseline overview of these dynamics, this chartbook walks through a selection of the best existing data on racial wealth inequity , organized into the following two sections:

  • PART 1: National Data on Wealth, which provides topline data on wealth inequity at the national level from the Survey of Consumer Finances.

  • PART 2: The Best (Albeit Limited) Local Data on Wealth, which provides detail on new efforts to create local estimates as well as some data on components of wealth from the American Community Survey.