The Corner

An “Ethnic Wealth Gap”?

A headline today announces “U.S. ethnic wealth gap widens”; it’s for an Associated Press story on a report that the median net worth of white households after the recent recession is, at $88,000, now 11 times more than the figure for Hispanic households and 14 times that for black households. Three obvious caveats: (1) For Hispanics, the figure will continue to rise so long as the percentage of recent immigrants in their total continues to grow, since those immigrants tend to have very few assets; (2) While of course the left will assert that this gap (of about $80,000) is all attributable to past and present discrimination, it is not at all clear how much of it really is (note that the report has few figures for Asians, who have suffered discrimination on par with Hispanics, but whose net wealth is, the report’s author acknowledged to me, much higher—much closer to whites’); and (3) Just because the gap may be “ethnic” doesn’t mean that ethnicity should be part of the remedy, if any—i.e., there are plenty of white families below the $88,000 figure and plenty of blacks and Hispanics above, so any program should be means-tested, not race-tested.