Racial and Income Inequality in the U.S.: From the Past to the Present
Friday, Jan. 6, 2023 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CST)
- Chair: Jan E. Christopher, Delaware State University
Federal Funding of White Supremacy: Past and Current
AbstractVast and deep racial disparities pervade American society. Arguably, at the core of these disparities stands the racial wealth gap. Today, the typical White household holds 15 times the wealth of the median Black household. More than any other single measure, this ratio demonstrates how power and opportunity remain stratified along racial lines. And the racial wealth gap continues to widen.
Much attention, all deserved, has been given to past, government policies that clearly favored White over Black Americans across centuries of enslavement, legalized apartheid, and public-sanctioned violence and theft. These policies manifest themselves today in the form of stored wealth that is easily passed across generations. What has received less attention is the role of current federal policies and their impact on expanding the racial wealth divide. Over the past generation, a dozen, federal tax expenditures have funneled trillions of dollars, mostly to the benefit of White households.
This paper examines the relative contributions of both family wealth transfers as well as the impact of these federal tax expenditures in funding the massive expansion of White household wealth since 1989. Using household wealth data collected by the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), it estimates the amount of family wealth transferred using two methods. Linking the SCF data with tax expenditure totals compiled by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the paper generates a comparable result on the contributions generated by these federal tax deductions. To a shocking degree, these current policies are compounding past support of White (wealth) supremacy.
Income Inequality and Climate Change
AbstractThere is general agreement among most economists that residents of developed countries use more resources and produce more pollutants per capita than residents of emerging economies. The literature on inequality and climate change often frames the debate as one of rich countries unwilling to change their lifestyles versus poor countries struggling to meet basic needs.
The burden of climate change is disproportionately borne by the poor whether they live in developed or emerging economies. Natural disasters, wherever they occur, exacerbated by climate change are more frequent and severe and restrict the life choices of more vulnerable populations. In recent decades, income inequality in the U.S. and globally has been increasing. This growing inequality is occurring in tandem with the increasingly devastating effects of climate change.
Against the backdrop of increasing income inequality and vulnerability of the poor, this paper examines the effects of climate change on the lowest income groups in the U.S., particularly people of color. In addition, the paper analyzes the distributive effects of proposed policies to foster more sustainable development and economic resiliency.
Does Inclusionary Zoning Policy Promote Racial and Income Integration? A Case Study of DC IZ/ADU Program
AbstractInclusionary Zoning (IZ) programs have been used by local governments to increase housing opportunities for lower income populations in growing areas of cities. This paper uses administrative data from DC government’s inclusionary zoning (IZ) program and income and property tax files to provide answers to the following questions: a) Has IZ program in DC worked as the guidelines suggested? b) How accessible is this program to all eligible low-income residents in DC? c) To what extent has IZ achieved the goal of improving housing affordability and racial equity? An important contribution of this paper is that it has individual level information on both spatial distribution of eligible population, the program applicants as well as the program beneficiaries in DC. This paper also has information on the location of IZ units and the lotteries, the random mechanism through which available IZ units are allocated to the eligible winners. This paper first provides an evaluation framework to determine whether the program was implemented as its guidelines suggested. Second, it compares the applicant population to the eligible population and the successful applicants to the applicant pool to find out whether DC IZ program has worked as its guidelines suggest. Preliminary results indicate that on average recipients (successful participants), who initially had significantly lower median incomes than non-recipients, showed higher median incomes 3 years later, which suggests that through IZ program improves access to better jobs for lower income program beneficiaries.
Incarcerating Race: The Incarceration Penalty and the Racial Wealth Gap
AbstractWe investigate the impact of household exposure to incarceration on household income and wealth accumulation. While most research focuses on the direct financial impact of incarceration on an individual, in the form of removal from the labor force or the penalty of a criminal record on subsequent employment, this study sheds light on the impact of incarceration on wealth accumulation. Our findings show a statistically significant racial gap in earnings and net worth and an incarceration penalty on earnings and wealth accumulation. Interestingly, the white-black racial household income and wealth gaps disappear when the reference group is whites with incarceration exposure. This reveals that statistically speaking, the size of the racial gap is equivalent to the incarceration penalty. Our racial gap decompositions based on incarceration exposure also corroborate these results. We find no statistically significant difference in the earnings between blacks with and without incarceration exposure. These findings suggest that society’s association of blackness with criminality has a similar wealth effect to that of the incarceration penalty.
- J1 - Demographic Economics
- D3 - Distribution