by Latoya Peterson
Because so many women of color have such little wealth other than the value of a vehicle, the rest of the paper uses the definition of wealth that excludes vehicles in order to capture the economic vulnerability experienced by women of color.
Excluding vehicles, single black women have a median wealth of $100 and Hispanic women $120 respectively, while their same-race male counterparts have $7,900 and $9,730. The median wealth of single white women is $41,500. To put it another way, single black and Hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a tiny fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by white women. With so little in reserve, half of all single black and Hispanic women could not afford to take an unpaid sick day or to even have a major appliance repaired without going into debt. The precarious financial situation of women of color is also evident when looking at those with zero or negative wealth, (negative wealth occurs when the value of one’s assets is lower than the value of their debts). Nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth (see Figure 2).
Pre-retirement wealth disparities for women of color affect them drastically in their retirement years. According to federal poverty standards, poverty rates for people age 65 and over are highest for women of color. In 2007 16.7% of white women living alone were poor, but 26% of Asian women living alone, 38.5% of black women living alone, and 41.1% of Hispanic women living alone were poor. 21
What does it mean when we talk about the difference between wealth and income? These two terms are not to be conflated. Someone can be a high earner, but still have no wealth at all – it is as simple as spending more than you earn. It doesn’t matter what the money is spent on – it can go up your nose, on your feet, to your landlord or thrown in mass amounts on a stage. However, if you manage to make a million dollars a year, and you spend $1.5 million, you are not wealthy. Not even close.
This is why this median figure of $5 is so important to understand. At various points in the course of the report, the data for women of color (again, defined as black and Latina, unless otherwise indicated) tends to fall around zero or five dollars, depending on the unit of measurement.
It is also important to understand the difference between a median number and an average number. I emailed report author Mariko Chang to clarify why the median number was generally used in the report:
In wealth research, it is conventional to use the median instead of the average for the following reason: Because wealth is so unequally distributed, with a few people owning extremely large amounts of wealth and the rest owning much smaller amounts, the few very wealthy people pull the average higher. The median, on the other hand is a better indicator of the wealth of the more “typical” case. (If we rank people or households on a continuum from least wealth to most wealth, the median is the point at which half have more wealth and half have less.) Because the median is a better indicator of the more typical case, people and organizations that study wealth report the median (although some report both).
Since today is Friday, we are going to ease up on the data and instead take a moment to reflect: how did you learn your lessons about wealth, income, and money?
Monday: Differences in financial starting points and class mobility
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- aboynamedart on Open Thread: Scandal S03 E09: ‘YOLO’
- Tonya on Race + The Netherlands: Exile
- nicthommi on Race + The Netherlands: Exile
- Derek Vandivere on Race + The Netherlands: Exile
- Delevan on Video: President Obama’s Speech At Nelson Mandela Memorial
- Open Thread: Scandal S03E10: ‘A Door Marked Exit’
- Open Thread: Beyocalypsé Now
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 12.12.13: Nelson Mandela, New York’s Poor, Black Republicans and more
- Race + The Netherlands: Exile
- Please Stop: The Trans Joke at the Spike Video Game Awards
- Video: President Obama’s Speech At Nelson Mandela Memorial
- What names are normal? Shifting the center of the world
- Will Black Woman-Directed Docs Make it to the Oscars?
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black celebrities comedy diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity interracial relationships Kerry Washington latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion Scandal sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes True Blood tv Uncategorized white youtube