Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Latoya on feminism and the wealth gap

Latoya Peterson (usually of Racialicious) makes a compelling case for why feminists should be talking more about the wealth gap, and maybe less about the pay gap.

She cites recent statistics from the economic development organization Insight that indicate women of color in particular enter adulthood with zero wealth, while almost all other demographics come into the job market in the positive. Here is the core of the (pretty shocking) statistics:
Wage equity is still a large problem for women—while the gender wage gap is widest for white women compared to white men, black, Latina, and Native American women take home far less than their white counterparts. But earnings are only a small part of overall financial stability. What matters more than income in the long run is the accumulation of wealth. As lead researcher Mariko Chang explains in her presentation summarizing the data, “wealth confers benefits income doesn’t.” While income is vital for day to day survival, only wealth can generate further income, provide collateral for loans, be passed from generation to generation through inheritance, and provide the individual with the means to survive without a paycheck. Sadly, for many of women of color, the wealth gap is even wider than the income gap. Most women of color have no assets except for their cars—once the blue book value of the vehicle is removed from the calculation of median wealth, black women are left with a scant $100 in assets, while Latinas can only claim $120.
While income disparities are important factors in determining quality of life, wealth disparities can have devastating long-term effects, prohibiting the accumulation of retirement funds, extended unpaid job leave in personal crises, and investment, like in property or in other long-term assets. And we are talking about MAJOR gulfs between demographics here, economic gulfs that get lost when we stay on the terrain of wage gaps.

Read the whole thing.

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