The Black-White Income Gap Is as Big as Ever

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 28 2013 10:06 AM

The Black-White High School Graduation Gap Has Nearly Closed. The Income Gap Is as Big as Ever.

177593878
Tourists visit the the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Aug. 24, 2013. Can King's dream is being fulfilled in some ways, but not others.

Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images

To state the obvious, race relations in America are dramatically different today than they were 50 years ago. And this manifests itself in any number of concrete ways. One particularly dramatic way is the closing of the once-enormous gap in high school graduation rates (data via Pew), which have risen for both whites and blacks while growing more equal:

high school gap

Unfortunately, the racial gap in median household income remains about as large as ever:

income gap
Advertisement

And since wealth is built up multigenerationally over time, the black-white gap in wealth remains absolutely enormous. Many middle-class white families—but very few middle-class black ones—still enjoy some wealth legacy from the New Deal and Fair Deal eras when affirmative action was white. Extensive government programs were created to bolster middle-class wealth and incomes, and black citizens were more or less excluded from participating in them.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.