The Black-White Wealth Gap Is Growing

An author of a new study explains why, and how to restore fairness to a system that favors the wealthy.

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Instead of privileging inheritances, great fortunes and speculation, policymakers need to reconnect achievement to wealth to reward achievement, innovation and productivity. There is no evidence that taxing financial gains at lower rates than wages increases innovation or productivity. Nearly half of the pension-contribution and mortgage-tax deductions go to the wealthiest, not to those with retirement and housing needs. In addition, the voracious reduction in tax rates at the highest incomes has hugely benefited a small group while driving income and wealth inequality to extreme levels.

A chance at getting a higher education, anchoring a family's security through homeownership, starting that business -- these are the opportunities squeezed from Americans by policies that distribute wealth to the already well-off.

Today Sheryl continues to dream of owning a house and sending her daughter to college. When we check in with her in 10 years, will we find even greater wealth inequality, or will opportunity have triumphed?

Thomas Shapiro, Ph.D., directs the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at The Heller School, Brandeis University, and is the author of The Hidden Cost of Being African and co-author of Black Wealth/White Wealth.

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