Institute on Assets and Social Policy
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
IASP releases the first brief in the Leveraging Mobility series, "Leveraging Mobility: Building Wealth, Security and Opportunity for Family Well-Being", that looks at how families build and secure wealth.
In a decade of stagnating economic mobility, and increasing income and wealth inequality, how have families built and secured a nest egg for their own retirement security and to leverage their children’s future well-being? What are the pathways and structures that helped them get on and stay on the wealth escalator? Drawing on a unique dataset of longitudinal interviews conducted twelve years apart, families with children in three major cities across the nation were asked about their assets, wealth, income, economic security and life aspirations. The Leveraging Mobility series examines how working and middle class families use assets to advance security and mobility, or struggle to gain ground in the absence of assets.
This first brief “Leveraging Mobility: Building Wealth, Security and Opportunity for Family Well-Being” highlights some surprising key findings, and provides information on how families in the study have fared over the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Contact Hannah Thomas at or (781) 736-3819 for more information.
IASP releases the report, Perspectives and Practices of New Hampshire Health Care Employers: Improving Quality, Reducing Costs, and Planning for the Future by Building Culturally Effective Health Care Organizations. Drawing from over 50 interviews, this report gives voice to what New Hampshire health care employers and workers are saying about how the health care system can better serve the growing minority patient population and all New Hampshire residents through increased diversity in the workforce. It is the first of a series that will examine best practices for effectively responding to the changing health care environment through a focus on workplace and workforce innovations that lead to more culturally effective organizations. This initiative is funded by a grant from U.S. HHS Administration for Children and Families.
IASP produced a new study published by The Pew Charitable Trusts, Making Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment, examines how American families manage unexpected financial setbacks and how those periods of economic uncertainty draw down financial resources, leaving them more insecure in the future. The report studies families across race and income levels, revealing different experiences resulting from unemployment and the difficult choices many of them face.
Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, the study takes a close look at varying experiences of unemployment across race and family income from 1999 to 2009. The research shows that families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment and other financial setbacks, but families at the bottom of the income ladder, Latinos, and blacks had the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative impacts.
Krissy Clark of NPR's Marketplace reported on the study in "Recovery from Job Loss: Easier for Whites than Blacks". Click below to listen:
The dramatic gap in household wealth that now exists along racial lines in the United States cannot be attributed to personal ambition and behavioral choices, but rather reflects policies and institutional practices that create different opportunities for whites and African-Americans, new research shows.
So powerful are these government policies and institutional practices that for typical families, a $1 increase in average income over the 25-year study period generates just $0.69 in additional wealth for an African-American household compared with $5.19 for a white household, in part because black households have fewer opportunities to grow their savings beyond what’s needed for emergencies.
This groundbreaking study, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide, statistically validates five “fundamental factors” that together largely explain why white households accumulate wealth so much faster over time than African-American households.
On February 27, 2013 there was a webinar hosted by the Insight Center’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, PolicyLink, and Tom Shapiro, Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. This webinar presented breakthrough research on what has been fueling our country’s growing racial wealth divide for the past 25 years. Click here to listen to the playback.
As America continues to become more diverse, the nation’s ability to achieve sustained growth and prosperity hinges on how quickly we can erase lingering racial and class divides and fully apply everyone’s talents and creativity to building the next economy.
IASP Director, Tom Shapiro, was recently on the Melissa Harris-Perry show discussing the racial wealth gap indepth.
Compass Working Capital, a small innovative CBO, was selected for funding by Strategic Grant Partners, Boston, MA, to implement an experimental asset-building approach to the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program for recipients of housing vouchers in Lynn, MA. IASP is developing and implementing the process and outcome evaluations and the preliminary cost/benefit analysis for this pilot FSS program. The multi-year evaluation focuses on how families use this opportunity to move toward economic stability, positive impacts sustained after program graduation, and the cost-effectiveness of taking the program to scale.
Rising Economic Insecurity among Senior Single Women, October 2011 • This most recent report in the series reveals that nearly half (47%) of all senior single women in America do not have adequate retirement resources to meet even their most basic needs for the remainder of their lives, and this number is rising.
The Crisis of Economic Insecurity for African-American and Latino Seniors, September 2011 • This report reveals crisis levels of economic insecurity among current African-American and Latino seniors—52% of African-American and 56% of Latino seniors do not have adequate retirement resources to meet their basic needs throughout their expected life-spans. Driven by extremely low levels of asset wealth and high housing costs, most seniors of color are struggling financially during their elder years.
From Bad to Worse: Senior Economic Insecurity on the Rise, July 2011 • The first in a series of four research briefs, this report shows a troublesome trend of increased economic insecurity among senior households in just four years (2004-2008). Economic insecurity among seniors increased by one-third during this period, from 27% to 36%.
Previous reports in the "Living Longer on Less" series include: