Panel: The Varied Causes of Persistent and Rising Wealth Inequality
(Social Equity and Race)

Thursday, November 8, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Stephanie Lessing, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Discussants:  Jeffrey Thompson, Federal Reserve Board

Unpaid Caregiving, Savings and Wealth
Michele E. Tolson and Christian E. Weller, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Intersections of Race, Incarceration and Wealth in Baltimore City
William Darity, Duke University and Darrick Hamilton, The New School

Declining Union Membership and Rising Wealth Inequality
David Madland1, Christian E. Weller1, Alex Rowell1 and Stephanie Lessing2, (1)Center for American Progress, (2)University of Massachusetts, Boston

Measuring the Racial Wealth Gap
Fenaba Addo, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Darrick Hamilton, The New School and Jermaine Toney, Cornell University

Household wealth is key to short term and long term economic security and income mobility. Yet, wealth inequality has been growing for two decades. This leaves many families with little money to help pay their bills in an emergency. A growing share of families are also at risk at having to make substantial cuts in their consumption when they retire. And, fewer families than in the past can move when new job opportunities arise and help pay for their children’s education, limit economic mobility.

Importantly, wealth inequality has systematically increased by gender, race and income. The rise in gender wealth inequality in part follows from the growth in unpaid caregiving responsibilities in an aging society. Wealth inequality by race can be traced to the disproportionate incarceration rates among African-Americans. And, increases in wealth inequality by income substantially correlate with the fall in union membership.

This panel will present new research on important contributing factors to the increase in wealth inequality. All papers will use quantitative data analyses of administrative and proprietary data sources.

The findings point the way to clear policy implications. Addressing the costs associated with unpaid caregiving could impact the gender wealth gap, criminal justice reform could positively affect the racial wealth gap and labor law reforms could potentially reduce wealth inequality by income. The result would be more short-term economic security and greater long-term financial security and mobility.

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