Providing Data to Advance Racial Wealth Equity

By Natalie Evans Harris    January 12, 2023

Across the country, private- and public-sector decision-makers are weighing how to support the accumulation of wealth in Black communities. There is a lot at stake—for these communities and beyond. The median net worth of white families is eight times that of Black families, and companies have pledged $50 billion in recent years to advance racial wealth equity. Research has found that closing the wealth divide would add between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy.

But how do we get from good intentions to advancing racial wealth equity? We need data. Data brings practitioners and policymakers one step closer to people’s experiences. Designing for equity without data is like driving in the dark without headlights. Wealth data consists of multiple factors, and it’s critical to present these indicators community by community, disaggregated by race so that decision-makers can act on the evidence.

That’s why we recently launched the Black Wealth Data Center, a new platform funded and launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies' Greenwood Initiative and incubated by Prosperity Now, a leading nonprofit focused on racial equity. The site aggregates data by race and geography to present interactive visualizations across topics such as entrepreneurship, assets and debts, and homeownership. What used to take hours of searching across sites, manually aggregating data, is now done in minutes. Curious about the relationship between rates of COVID-19 and the percentage of Black residents in a given region? Want to see health insurance coverage in counties where more than 20 percent of residents are Black? You’re one click away.

The Racial Wealth Equity Database is the heart of our platform. In the Racial Wealth Equity Database, information from federal, state, and local sources come together in visualizations that can be searched by county or zip code and filtered to see different factors. The graphs and charts can then be downloaded, shared, or embedded.

The Racial Wealth Equity Database focuses on assets and debt, business ownership, education, employment, and homeownership. In early December, we also released the Black Wealth Indicators, a new resource that can compare one county against the national average or two counties against each other.

By using the Black Wealth Indicators, for example, it’s clear that Black residents in Arlington County, Virginia—just outside of Washington, D.C.—are doing better in some respects than Black residents in other areas of the country. The median income for Black residents in Arlington County is $20,000 higher than the nationwide figure, and a higher percentage of Black residents in Arlington County have health insurance (92%) than the national average (90%).

But compare Arlington County against nearby Fairfax County, for instance, and the picture changes. Though Black residents make up about the same share of each county (10%) and have about the same poverty rate among Black households (11%), the median income for Black households in Fairfax is $25,000 higher than in Arlington. How could these differences impact health outcomes in each place?

The Black Wealth Data Center also offers a resource library where visitors can find articles providing more context for the data available on the site. More than 90 articles are available across a range of topics.

This is just the beginning. We’re also looking to partner with public and private organizations to improve the quality of existing datasets, close local data gaps, and create new data tools.

We invite you to join us! Sign up for our newsletter or register to join us at an upcoming event. You can also reach out to us at [email protected]—we’d love to hear from you and how we might be able to work together to advance racial wealth equity.

About the Author

Natalie Evans Harris

Executive Director
The Black Wealth Data Center

Providing Data to Advance Racial Wealth Equity

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