Widely-Held Hypothesis About Income Inequality Debunked: Racism And Black Boys

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Written by Ann Brown

It has been long theorized that growing up in poverty was a major factor in keeping Black boys and Black men down economically — lack of opportunities, education, and professional connections.

A new study shows that no matter how much money Black boys are raised with, they are still affected by pay inequality as adults.

A group of researchers at Stanford and Harvard used census data, IRS tax returns and other data to analyze how race affects economic mobility. The New York Times partnered with the researchers.


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“Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children,” the New York Times reported. And as time goes on, Black boys raised with money tend to become poorer as they settle into their own adult households.

Meanwhile, white boys who grow up wealthy tend to keep the same economic status.  Most white boys raised in wealthy families will stay rich or upper middle class as adults, but Black boys raised in similarly rich households will not.

Black Boys
Image: Unsplash

The researchers found that ‘in 99 percent of U.S. neighborhoods, Black boys earn less in adulthood than white boys who grow up in families with comparable income, the Times reported.

Economic status doesn’t even shield Black men from going to prison in comparison to their white peers. According to the Times, “Black men raised in the top 1 percent — by millionaires — were as likely to be incarcerated as white men raised in households earning about $36,000.”

“The researchers do not say why Black men experience such negative outcomes — as do American Indians, whose distinctive history and challenges are shamefully ignored in our national discourse,” the New Observer reports. “The answers are complex and almost certainly involve the legacy of racism and perceptions of black masculinity.”

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Interestingly, the study revealed that Black women “earn slightly more than white women” from families with comparable income.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence, MadameNoire.com, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.