Only Worth $100? The Harsh Reality of Single Black Women & Bankruptcy
9 months ago
Gender and racial wealth gaps pose long-term problems
In 2010, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development released a report on the national wealth gap, revealing that single African American women achieved a median wealth income of just $100. Yes, you read that right. The staggering statistic appears even more shocking when compared to that of their white counterparts, who averaged a median wealth income of just over $41,000.
Though the Insight Center is still assessing more recent data, the effects of the ongoing economic crisis, coupled with a longstanding structure of racism and sexism, lead many to believe that the new results will not show much improvement, and that solutions, if any, are few.
The report, "Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future," also found that nearly half of all single black women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debts exceed all their assets; one-fourth of single black women have no checking or savings account; and only 33 percent of African American single women are homeowners.
Mariko Chang, independent consultant and author of "Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It," notes that the legacy of the racial wealth gap is largely to blame for the discrepancy.
"So much of the racial wealth gap that occurred in our history is still really alive," Chang said. "Because of both discrimination and a gender pay gap, black women, in particular, lack a lot of the traditional wealth safety nets that other groups have access to. Because of their lower earnings, and also because of the types of jobs they have - service jobs, for instance - they're less likely to have fringe benefits, retirement accounts, paid vacation days. If they face unemployment, illness or any kind of negative economic shock, they just don't have that cushion."
Subsequently, the rates at which blacks are defaulting on loans and filing for bankruptcy are growing.