I wonder if Brookings is claiming differences in Black and non-Black median age, family structure, and education are attributable to current and prior discrimination. If so, then there isn't any disagreement between your more factored analysis and theirs.

Expand full comment

I suppose that is possible, and if so, they should write better. But I don't think so.

Median age: How is this based on prior discrimination? I suppose it could be. Less money due to discrimination, and so fewer kids. Even if this is the case, you have to mention it in the article as the difference in net worth that is due to the age difference shouldn't be fixed. Should they?

Single parents: My understanding is that this has increased for Black families over the last few decades. It is hard to blame this on past discrimination if it has gotten worse more recently. Or are they going to argue that discrimination is getting worse?

One thing I didn't bring up is the 50% Black murder rate, which certainly hurts the Black community. This has been consistent for decades. This is because of prior discrimination?

Then there is the blanket solution of a more progressive tax structure and reparations. So, if we just give Black families more money, then they will marry more and not shoot each other, for example?

I generally think progressives are hurting their own causes with essays like this. At best, it is an incomplete argument, but I think it is closer to what they believe and don't want to acknowledge that some difference might not be due to prior discrimination. I'd welcome a clear argument as to how prior discrimination is the main problem. If they did that, then we could have an honest debate, which would be good for all sides.

Personally, I don't think culture can be completely ignored, and I think that is what drives Asian success more than anything.

As a better essay, for example, if they wrote an article arguing for a more progressive tax structure so that K–12 funding was more equitable and not based on property tax as a way to a more fair society, I'd support that. Such a policy would disproportionately help Black families but also help other poor families. I think this would find more support than arguing for reparations based on net-worth differences being (maybe) due to discrimination.

Expand full comment

Considering family structure when analyzing any wealth gap is absolutely essential. I appreciate the analyses and figures you presented in this post.

When looking at married couples, and the effect of sharing expenses on net worth, I am curious to know what kind of reverse causality, if any, may exist. Are those in better financial positions more likely to get married in the first place? What kind of effect do confounding variables like education and age have on single people’s decisions to enter a couple or marry?

Expand full comment

I think there is a whole lot of correlation floating around here. If you look at the Pew survey, you see that only 18% of those with a BS had not been married by age 40 (33% for HS or less). I think marriage becomes more likely as one continues their education.

The better off one is financially or is prepared to be, the more desirable they are as a partner. If nothing else, the opportunity for marriage would seem to be higher.

Generally speaking, winning the parent lottery is the smartest thing you can do. If you have stable, educated (or invested in themselves in some way, i.e., by becoming a tradesperson), committed parents, then you are way better off, and this isn't about inheritance. You likely have better DNA passed down. You have parents who can and know how to advocate for you. You'll have opportunities for camps, music lessons, etc. Your odds of doing better in life are simply higher.

Expand full comment