NPR: How The Pandemic Is Widening The Racial Wealth Gap

NPR, September 18, 2020, How The Pandemic Is Widening The Racial Wealth Gap

Latino, Black and Native American households have reported serious financial problems since the coronavirus pandemic. The worsening conditions within the disproportionate financial impact on communities of color reflects the pre-existing racial disparities in wealth.

Sixty percent of Black households are facing serious financial problems since the pandemic began, according to a national poll released this week by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. That includes 41% who say they’ve used up most or all their savings, while an additional 10% had no savings before the outbreak.

Latinos and Native Americans are also disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s economic impact. Seventy-two percent of Latino and 55% of Native American respondents say their households are facing serious financial problems, compared with 36% of whites.

“The thing that immediately struck me was how large the gap was by race for the people who said they were facing serious problems,” says Valerie Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute.

The pandemic’s disproportionate financial impact on communities of color reflects — and is worsening — existing racial disparities in wealth, she adds.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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