Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Demos released a new report that explores popular explanations for the racial wealth gap between African-American, Latino, and white households. The report demonstrates that changing individual behavior in areas such as education, family structure, full- or part-time employment, and personal consumption habits would not reverse the economic harm done by structural racism.
The report’s findings reveal that similar achievements do not lead to similar rewards in terms of wealth for whites and households of color. Though attending college, getting married, and working full time are all associated with more wealth for each group, the asset value of the household level experiences explored in the analysis is substantially greater for white households than for black and Latino families. The investigation highlights that the ongoing structural barriers to wealth equality in the U.S. cannot be combated at the individual or household level. Instead, public policy is needed to eliminate racial wealth disparities.
In Equitable Investments in the Next Generation: Designing Policies to Close the Racial Wealth Gap, IASP and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) build on findings from analyses using the Racial Wealth Audit—first launched by IASP and Demos—to focus attention on the ways in which education policy proposals can reduce or exacerbate racial wealth disparities. The analysis reveals the potential role that educational policies in the areas of student debt, higher education, and asset-development for youth may have in promoting equity and reducing the racial wealth gap. By comparing racial wealth disparities seen today with projected wealth outcomes by race and ethnicity following the implementation of proposed policy solutions, the report suggests promising frameworks for new policy proposals, including targeted universalism, and cautions policymakers to avoid educational investments that could deepen existing wealth inequalities.
Economic inequality is at historic highs, but its impact differs by race. African Americans' net wealth is just a tenth that of white Americans and in recent decades white families have accumulated wealth at three times the rate of black families. In our increasingly diverse nation, sociologist Thomas M. Shapiro argues, wealth disparities must be understood in tandem with racial inequities--a dangerous combination he terms "toxic inequality." Toxic inequality has been forged by history and preserved by policy, and only bold, race-conscious reforms can move us toward a more just society. Toxic Inequality is available for preorder from Amazon. Read more about the book here.
"Everyone concerned about the toxic effects of inequality must read this book.” — R O B E R T B. R E I C H, author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few
This report uses data on Secure Jobs participants who entered skills training to explain how Secure Jobs sites use short-term skills training programs for their participants. Key findings include: Secure Jobs participants who enroll in skills training programs are comparable to those who do not, and they show moderate employment gains, most notably in job retention. Secure Jobs participants choose training programs in subjects ranging from health care to manufacturing. About half have chosen training in healthcare-related fields. Participants who enter training in traditionally female-dominated fields, including healthcare, sales and service, are more likely to find employment than those in traditionally male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing.
Manchester, New Hampshire, is home to an increasingly diverse population, where disparities in access to care and health outcomes are prevalent. These health disparities are exacerbated by racial and socio-economic inequities in educational attainment, access to quality jobs, and neighborhood resources. Healthcare organizations around the U.S. -- in small communities as well as large urban centers -- will increasingly seek to implement strategies that improve quality and equity. Since 2013 and with funding from the Endowment for Health, the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) has been working on a project to become a Center of Excellence in Culturally Effective Care. IASP partnered with the health center to provide technical assistance and study the implementation of a range of organizational change strategies that move MCHC along their path to becoming a culturally effective organization. This case study, Becoming a Culturally Effective Organization: A Case Study of the Manchester Community Health Center, sheds light on strategies appropriate for community health centers in communities becoming ever more diverse that are read to embark on an organizational change process to deliver high quality care to all.
With rising numbers of young people accumulating student debt as they strive for a higher degree and a more secure economic future, the growing financial burden of student debt on young households is increasingly highlighted on the agendas of policymakers and the media. However, policy conversations to date have failed to address the racial disparities that exist in student borrowing and how student debt impacts the racial wealth gap among young households.
The Institute on Assets and Social Policy (IASP) and Demos released “Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt while Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap” to add a racial equity lens to the discussion. Using the Racial Wealth Audit™, a framework developed at IASP to assess the impacts of policies on the racial wealth gap, this report highlights how new policies can both lower overall student debt burdens and reduce racial wealth disparities among young households. Such reforms must be designed carefully, directing debt relief towards low and moderate income households. With momentum growing to address the burden of student loans, policymakers and advocates have the opportunity to develop solutions that could halt the growing tide of student debt while also reducing the substantial racial wealth gap among young households.
Caregiving responsibilities and changes in household composition, such as divorce or separation, create financial challenges that disproportionately affect women. The seventh brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, “Tipping the Scale: How Assets Shape Economic Wellbeing for Women and Families,” examines how families leverage neighborhood, institutional, and personal resources to protect against these gendered, wealth-stripping forces. Framed by national trends that point to racial disparities in access to these resources, the brief uses comparative case studies to explore how unequal access shapes the set of strategies and trade-offs available to women and their families. A webinar cosponsored by IASP and PolicyLink was held on December 10.