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. Read the Post Women of Color and Wealth – Looking at the Wealth Gap [Part 2]