For black boys in America, upward mobility has very little to do with education, class or work ethic according to a new extensive study. Black boys will likely earn less money even than white kids who grew up in worse neighborhoods.
“We analyze racial differences in economic opportunity using data on 20 million children and their parents,” said The Equality of Opportunity Project, a joint initiative between Stanford and Harvard. “We show black children have much lower rates of upward mobility and higher rates of downward mobility than white children, leading to black-white income disparities that persist across generations. While Hispanic and black Americans presently have comparable incomes, the incomes of Hispanic Americans are increasing steadily across generations.”
The study, titled “Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States,” was published on Monday and it examines the sources of racial and ethnic disparities in income using de-identified longitudinal data covering nearly the entire U.S. population from 1989-2015. The researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities discovered that in 99 percent of American neighborhoods, white boys fare better than black boys even if their parents are on similar incomes.
The study shows that white boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised in America, on the other hand – even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods – still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds.
African-American boys who move early in their life to districts with lower poverty levels, less racism and strong paternal presence have lower levels of incarceration and higher incomes as adults.
“Black and white boys have very different outcomes even if they grow up in two-parent families with comparable incomes, education and wealth, live on the same city block, and attend the same school,” say the authors.
The study also found that the black-white gap in upward mobility is driven entirely by differences in men’s, not women’s, outcomes.
“Black and white men have very different outcomes even if they grow up in two-parent families with comparable incomes, education, and wealth; live on the same city block; and attend the same school,” the study says. “Black-white gaps are smaller in low-poverty neighborhoods with lower levels of racial bias among whites and a larger fraction of black fathers at home. We conclude that reducing the black-white income gap will require efforts whose impacts cross neighborhood and class lines and increase upward mobility specifically for black men.”