Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Net worth and Disparity

Former Senator John Edwards spoke at our Central Dallas prayer breakfast this morning. He didn't impress me too much as a presidential candidate, but I was actually very impressed with him today. His seemed very knowledgeable and involved as he talked about poverty and the things that need to be done to begin fixing things in our country.

One of the things that struck me was his comment of the Average Net Worth of different groups of people:

African-Americans--$6000
Hispanics--$8000
Whites--$80,000

To make sure he hadn't pulled such amazingly disparate figures out of the sky, I looked it up. Sure enough, the Pew Hispanic Center had the same numbers....except for the fact that they found Whites were worth closer to $89,000. That's over $70,000 difference!!

Why is that?

Though the research I read doesn't address why, here is my assessment:

When we don't put money into a system to educate poor children (who are mostly children of color), they grow up to be under-educated adults. When the adults go look for a job, they have to look for jobs without college degrees and, therefore, make less money. Because they are making less money, they live in neighborhoods that they can afford, which usually have lower-quality schools with less resources. They have children who attend the local public school, which receives few tax dollars because people in the neighborhood are working at low-wage jobs. The children grow up...The cycle starts all over again.

Meanwhile, the opposite is happening in wealthy, predominantly White communities. Higher tax dollars leads to better-resourced schools, which leads to more formally educated kids, etc. You get the picture.
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