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The Racial Saving Gap Enigma: Unraveling the Role of Institutions

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  • Belton, Willie

    () (Georgia Institute of Technology)

  • Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth

    () (Morehouse College)

Abstract

It has been well documented in the literature that ethnicity matters significantly in the determination of savings. In particular, African-American savings lag far behind savings for other ethnic groups. Similarly, the literature also provides evidence of the long-lived nature of institutions and the link between institutions and culture. In this paper, we provide an explanation for the savings gap that still exists between African-Americans and White Americans even after accounting for appropriate factors that can lead to savings differentials. We initially provide evidence that the savings gap exists and persist after including several control variables in a regression analysis. We then provide evidence that the persistent gap can not be attributed solely to racial discrimination but can be explained by the response of culture to institutional scaffolding erected many years earlier. Using a novel within race decomposition we provide evidence that past institutions transmitted through culture can help to explain this persistent saving disparity.

Suggested Citation

  • Belton, Willie & Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2008. "The Racial Saving Gap Enigma: Unraveling the Role of Institutions," IZA Discussion Papers 3545, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3545
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    1. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Nikolai Roussanov, 2009. "Conspicuous Consumption and Race," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 425-467.
    2. Lisa A. Keister, 2000. "Family Structure, Race, and Wealth Ownership: A Longitudinal Exploration of Wealth Accumulation Processes," Macroeconomics 0004051, EconWPA.
    3. Charles Yuji Horioka & Junmin Wan, 2007. "The Determinants of Household Saving in China: A Dynamic Panel Analysis of Provincial Data," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(8), pages 2077-2096, December.
    4. Francine D. Blau & John W. Graham, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 321-339.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
    6. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Transition To Home Ownership And The Black-White Wealth Gap," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 281-297, May.
    7. James Smith & Michael Ward, 1980. "Asset Accumulation And Family Size," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 17(3), pages 243-260, August.
    8. Dilip Ratha & Sanket Mohapatra & K. M. Vijayalakshmi & Zhimei Xu, 2007. "Remittance Trends 2007," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11024, The World Bank.
    9. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    10. Lisa A. Keister, 2000. "Family Structure, Race, and Wealth Ownership: A Longitudinal Exploration of Wealth Accumulation Processes," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_304, Levy Economics Institute.
    11. Smith, J.P., 1996. "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," Papers 96-12, RAND - Reprint Series.
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    Cited by:

    1. Du, Qingyuan & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2016. "A Darwinian perspective on “exchange rate undervaluation”," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 111-138.
    2. Du, Qingyuan & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2013. "A theory of the competitive saving motive," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 275-289.
    3. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth & Belton, Willie, 2010. "Black-White Gap in Self-Employment in the U.S.: Do Cohort and Within Race Differences Exist?," IZA Discussion Papers 5071, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ruth Oyelere & Willie Belton, 2013. "Black–White gap in self-employment. Does intra-race heterogeneity exist?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 25-39, June.
    5. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth & Belton, Willie, 2008. "The Role of Information and Institutions in Understanding the Black-White Gap in Self-Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 3761, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth & Belton, Willie, 2009. "Coming to America: Does Immigrant's Home Country Economic Status Impact the Probability of Self-Employment in the U.S.?," IZA Discussion Papers 4178, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Mundra, Kusum & Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2013. "Determinants of Immigrant Homeownership: Examining their Changing Role during the Great Recession and Beyond," IZA Discussion Papers 7468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Qingyuan Du & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "A Sexually Unbalanced Model of Current Account Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 16000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    savings gap; institutions; race; culture;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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