Income is a major component of wealth, but the relationship between income and wealth is complex. Wealth and income are both used to measure a family’s economic situation, but they tell us different things about the health and strength of economic well-being.
Home ownership is one of the key strategies to close the racial wealth gap. A home is where households see gains in equity (market value of home minus any liens attached to property) and is typically the largest asset Americans hold, regardless of race or ethnicity.
But Black and Latinx households have considerably less equity in their homes than White and Asian households. As Richard Rothstein says in The Color of Law, “A home is one of the only assets where the race of the owner affects the rate of return.”
Wealth is more than money. While simply defined as the net amount of assets over liabilities, wealth functions in more expansive ways. It opens doors to homeownership, no-debt or low-debt education, business ownership, and the ability to weather personal and national emergencies.
These opportunities and the racial wealth gap that locks some groups out — White households in the United States have 10 times the wealth of Black households and 7 times the wealth of Latinx households — have historical policy roots.