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Income Gap Between Families Grows

Stephen Ohlemacher

From Associated Press
November 13, 2007 7:02 AM EST

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WASHINGTON - Decades after the civil rights movement, the

income gap between black and white families has grown,

says a new study that tracked the incomes of some 2,300

families for more than 30 years.

Incomes have increased among both black and white

families in the past three decades - mainly because

more women are in the work force. But the increase

was greater among whites, according to the study

being released Tuesday.

One reason for the growing disparity: Incomes among black

men have actually declined in the past three decades,

when adjusted for inflation. They were offset only by gains

among black women.

Incomes among white men, meanwhile, were relatively

stagnant, while those of white women increased more

than fivefold.

"Overall, incomes are going up. But not all children are

benefiting equally from the American dream," said Julia

Isaacs, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a

Washington think tank.

Isaacs wrote a series of three reports that looked at the

incomes of parents in the late 1960s and early 1970s,

and of their grown children 30 years later. Isaacs

compared the incomes of parents who were in their 30s

with the incomes of their children, once they reached

the same age group.

Parents have long hoped that their children would grow up

to be more successful than they were. Hopes were

especially high for black children who came of age

following the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The reports found that about two-thirds of the children

surveyed grew up to have higher family incomes than

their parents had 30 years earlier.

Grown black children were just as likely as whites to have

higher incomes than their parents. However, incomes

among whites increased more than those of their black


The result: In 2004, a typical black family had an income

that was only 58 percent of a typical white family's. In

1974, median black incomes were 63 percent those

of whites.

"Too many Americans, whites and even some blacks, think

that the playing field has indeed leveled," said Marc Morial,

president and CEO of the National Urban League.

It has not, he added.

"We are like fingers on the hand," Morial said of black and

white Americans. "We are on the same hand, but we are

separate fingers."

Morial blamed the disparities on inadequate schools in black
neighborhoods, workplace discrimination and too many black

families with only one parent.

"The public policy commitment to this has been sketchy over

the last 30 years," Morial said. "There has not been a real f

ocus on this."

Perhaps most disturbing, middle-income black families do

not appear to be passing on higher incomes to their children

in the same way that white families have, Isaacs said.

She found that only one in three black children from

middle-income families grew up to have higher incomes than

their parents.

"That means a majority ended up slipping down," Isaacs said.

Among whites, about two-thirds of the children from

middle-income families grew up to have higher incomes

than their parents, she said.

On a positive note, black children from poor families were

much more likely to grow up to have higher incomes than

their parents, Isaacs said.


On The Net:

The Economic Mobility Project:

Brookings Institution:

National Urban League:

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.

Quran: 3:103
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