Wealth Mobility and Volatility in Black and White

Date: July 29, 2008

Center for American Progress
1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor

Washington, DC 20005


Conventional wisdom considers the United States to be a land of equal opportunity where the possibility for upward economic mobility is limitless. To date, the "American Dream" premise has almost exclusively been tested in terms of income mobility—that is, tested by looking at the extent to which the income of parents compares to the income of their children. Yet the American Dream measured against another metric, inequality in wealth, or what you own rather than what you earn, may reveal a much starker picture.

The first panel will discuss the relationship between income inequality and inequality in wealth, as examined in the new paper "Wealth Mobility and Volatility in Black and White." Looking at the complete picture of the economic landscape of financial security and opportunity for U.S. families reveals a country where many families struggle to maintain a consistent standard of living. This prevents families from leaving resources to provide a stepping stone for their children or a nest egg for their own retirement.

The second panel will analyze the effect of race on wealth inequality: blacks not only hold one-tenth the wealth of white families at the median, they also are more likely to be asset-poor across their entire adulthoods and even intergenerationally.

Please join the Center for American Progress, the authors, and policy experts on Tuesday, July 29th for a two-part discussion about the analysis and its implications for public policy.

Opening Remarks:
Michael Ettlinger, vice president for economic policy, Center for American Progress

Dalton Conley, professor and chair of the Sociology Department, New York University

Panel 1:
Featured Panelists:
Ron Haskins, senior fellow and co-director of the Center on Children and Families, Brookings Institution
Gregory Acs, senior research associate, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute

Moderated by:
Mark Greenberg, senior fellow, director of Poverty and Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress

Panel 2:
Featured Panelists:
John Morton, managing director, Program Planning and Economic Policy, Pew Charitable Trusts
Wade Henderson, president and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Moderated by:
Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Economy Program, Economic Policy Institute

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For more information, call 202-682-1611

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