Institute for Economic and Racial Equity

Racial Wealth and Economic Equity

IERE's work around racial wealth and economic equity demonstrates that inequality is not merely about access to resources and assets—rather, similar accomplishments in homeownership, income, and college education convert to financial gain differentially by race. This is because substantial racial wealth gaps among younger adults grow dramatically over the life course as white families leverage their head-start assets.

Findings like this emphasize the importance of policy changes rather than behavioral changes in the broader effort to build an inclusive economy. Increasingly, IERE has helped the assets field to move beyond a narrow focus on family wealth and toward broader analyses related to the impact of policies on the wealth-building opportunities of specific populations.  

As a response to larger research findings, IERE has partnered with community organizations to perform evaluations of grassroots programs which aim to close the racial wealth gap.

IERE research in Racial Wealth and Economic Equity addresses many areas including the racial wealth gap, the racial wealth audit, retirement security, middle class security, children's savings accounts, financial education and empowerment. 

Significant findings in the area of Racial Wealth and Economic Equity include:

Policy drives the racial wealth gap. 

Student Debt is Disrupting Life Chances and Widening the Racial Wealth Gap

Stalling Dreams reveals powerful findings on the destructive long-term impacts of holding student loans, especially for first generation students and students of color.

graphic reveals systematic failure of student loan system, particularly for students of color

(Accessible description of student loan default graph)

Occupational segregation effects on wages and wealth.

“Not Only Unequal Paychecks” report reveals how Blacks and Latinos have significantly lower pay and wealth than their White peers with similar educational backgrounds in finance, construction, healthcare, and STEM. While wealth increases for all in more highly-compensated sectors, the gains from entering a higher-paying field are not shared equally.


(Accessible description of occupational segregation wealth graph)



Expanding college access is not a panacea for reducing racial wealth inequalities. 

Analysis of college-educated families shows that while higher educational attainment leads to greater wealth for households in general, young black households are more likely than their white peers to take on student loan debt and that wealth disparities are substantial among college-educated white and black Households.

(Accessible description of the wealth gap graph)