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People know a lot about income inequality, and for good reason — it is longstanding, growing, and economically and socially destructive. But the wealth gap among us is arguably a much bigger deal. Why? Not only because its roots tell the story of generations of discrimination and racism, but because it projects a dimmer future. Less wealth affects things like credit scores, student loans, and the financial stability of future generations. This is a topic that’s important to us at Wealthsimple, because enabling everyone to have the financial power to have choices in their lives underpins everything we do.
This Black History Month, we've made a portrait of the racial wealth gap in America and Canada in four snapshots.
Part One: The Racial Wage Gap
A report from the Conference Board of Canada showed that for every dollar earned by a white worker, minorities tend to make less. And a difference in wages means a difference in the ability to save and invest — amplifying the wealth gap over time, thanks to the power of compounding.
These numbers show the disparity in Canada. Investing is a way to build wealth and put your money to work (even when you’re not, yourself, at work). It’s also evidence of who already has enough money to invest.
Part Two: The Net Worth Gap
Net worth is the total wealth of a family — including savings, equity in real estate, retirement accounts, possessions, etc. In 2014, the last year numbers were available, white families had more than 10 times the net worth as Black families, and four times more than Hispanic families.
Part Three: The Retirement Gap
This graph shows the percentage of households with retirement accounts in America. These accounts are hugely important — not only for folks who hope to stop working someday without being destitute, but because if people don't have retirement savings they're more likely to require help from their kids, and less likely to leave money for future generations. And that perpetuates the wealth gap.
Part Four: Retirement Savings
Of course, it's not just whether you have a retirement account, but how much you have in it. This reflects the median total savings for retirement by white, Black, Hispanic and Asian families in 2014.
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