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The Intersection and Accumulation of Racial and Gender Inequality: Black Women’s Wealth Trajectories

  • Tyson Brown


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    Prior research has found evidence of large racial and gender disparities in wealth, with blacks possessing less wealth than whites and women having less wealth than men. An intersectionality approach suggests that the overlapping impacts of racial and gender domination are likely to combine in a multiplicative fashion that places black women in a uniquely precarious economic position. However, little is known about the wealth holdings of black women and even less is known about whether their wealth increases, decreases or remains stable as they approach retirement age, a stage of life when savings are especially important. This study utilizes seven waves of panel data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and growth curve models to estimate the wealth trajectories of black women between the ages of 51 and 73. Results reveal that black women have especially low levels of net worth and net financial assets during middle and late life, suggesting high risk of economic insecurity in later life. Consistent with political economy and intersectionality perspectives, their persistently low wealth trajectories are likely the result of state policies, discrimination, residential segregation and health disparities. Ameliorative policy prescriptions are discussed. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

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    Article provided by Springer in its journal The Review of Black Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 239-258

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:blkpoe:v:39:y:2012:i:2:p:239-258
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    1. N. Chiteji & Darrick Hamilton, 2002. "Family connections and the black-white wealth gap among middle-class families," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 9-28, June.
    2. Maury Gittleman & Edward N. Wolff, 2004. "Racial Differences in Patterns of Wealth Accumulation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521621687 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    5. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-21, June.
    6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521627511 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Darrick Hamilton & William Darity, 2010. "Can ‘Baby Bonds’ Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 207-216, September.
    8. William A. Darity & Patrick L. Mason, 1998. "Evidence on Discrimination in Employment: Codes of Color, Codes of Gender," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 63-90, Spring.
    9. Francisco Azpitarte, 2010. "Measuring poverty using both income and wealth: A cross-country comparison between the U.S. and Spain," Working Papers 153, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
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