Institute on Assets and Social Policy

The Heller School for Social Policy and ManagementReturn to this website's homepageBrandeis University

Toxic Inequality

cover of Toxic InequalityComing in March 2017: Tom Shapiro's new book

Toxic Inequality: How America's Wealth Gap Destroys Mobility, Deepens the Racial Divide, & Threatens Our Future

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 reveals how these forces trap families in place. Shapiro's longitudinal research vividly documents the Great Recession's toll on parents and children, the ways families use financial assets, and the real reasons some families build wealth while others struggle in poverty. The structure of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and tax code--much more than individual choices--push some forward and hold others back. 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.

 “This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read on economic inequality in the United States. Thomas M. Shapiro’s poignant stories of families coping with financial stress and insecurity, based on interviews over several years, are buttressed by his persuasive account of how economic, political, and social forces enhance the relationship between wealth disparities and racial inequities. Shapiro’s penetrating analysis and bold policy prescriptions make Toxic Inequality a must-read.” — WILLIAM JULIUS WILSON , Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

“Thomas M. Shapiro brilliantly analyzes the most important economic challenge of our time. With its razor-sharp insights and poignant personal stories, Toxic Inequality is a compelling, crucially important, and ultimately hopeful book.” — BOB HERBERT, distinguished senior fellow, Dēmos, and former Op-Ed columnist, New York Times

Copyright 2018 • Brandeis University • All rights are reserved