Wealth Distribution in Communities of Color: Evidence from the National Asset Scorecard in Communities of Color (NASCC) Project
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
William Darity Jr., Duke University, and Darrick Hamilton, The New School
The paper presents findings from the design, implementation and analysis of a 2013-2014 five metropolitan area survey of about 2700 observations in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Tulsa and Washington, DC. The survey was designed to reveal the asset and debt positions of ethnic and racial groups whose wealth either is overlooked or inadequately measured by existing surveys.
The NASCC survey defined ethnic/racial groups in fine detail based on specific ancestral or national origin. The objective was to overcome the tendency to mask the heterogeneity of asset experiences resulting from aggregation of specific groups into catchall categories, like Asian or Latino/a. In addition, native Americans are defined based on tribal origin, and blacks and whites are disaggregated based on ancestry as well. To date very little is known about the asset position of these sub-groups, particularly any of those with native American or Asian heritage.
The five metropolitan areas were systematically chosen to ascertain geographical and demographic representativeness of the groups of primary interest. An advantage of comparing groups within metropolitan area is the implicit control with regards to asset and debt pricing and wealth-generating products associated with specific geographical areas. In short, asset markets are local
Initial results reveal that there is substantial variation within broadly defined ethnic categories like “Asian” and “Latino/a.” The degree of income inequality based on ancestral and tribal origin pales in comparison to wealth inequality; racial/ethnic wealth gaps persist across both tangible and financial assets; the relative group position of some ancestral origin groups vary across metropolitan context; there is substantial variation in homeownership rates across metropolitan area with some relatively high wealth groups not ranked amongst the highest homeowners; and, finally, there is substantial asset variation across and within metropolitan areas with black and Mexican Americans consistently ranking at the bottom of the wealth distribution.