Racial Wealth Inequalities

Finding ways to improve the financial stability and mobility of lower-income families is a priority for the Boston Fed, and conducting rigorous data analysis is an important component of our work. To gain a better understanding of the financial situation of families across greater Boston, we partnered with the Ford Foundation and Duke University’s Center on Social Equity to bring the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey to the Boston metropolitan area. The goal of the data collection is to generate informed conversations about policies to shrink large wealth gaps.

Much has been written about income inequality, but inequality of wealth (or net worth) is particularly pronounced along racial and ethnic lines, where the gap has widened over the past 30 years. In general, income helps families cover their current needs, but wealth allows them to make investments in education, create businesses, and cover expenses when there are medical emergencies or job losses. Unlike existing surveys on assets and debts, the NASCC survey provides a more complete picture of the wealth position of communities of color, with the added benefit of providing analysis at the local level.

Data from local implementation of the NASCC survey resulted in The Color of Wealth in Boston report, an in-depth study on racial wealth inequality. More details about the NASCC survey methodology can be found in the Color of Wealth report page. As a follow-up to the report, the Boston Fed convened a regional, cross-sector working group on the topic of “reducing wealth inequality.” The aim of the group was to agree on a set of shared priorities and action steps to help the region make progress in tackling the complex challenges faced by communities of color. The working group’s findings and recommendations are presented in its final report. The Boston Fed has also conducted additional quantitative and qualitative research on this topic.

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