Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective

Racial disparities are among the most visible and persistent features of American society. For example, in 2016, the median household income of black Americans was $39,500, compared with $65,000 for non-Hispanic white Americans (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census 2017). The sources of these disparities have been heavily studied and debated, with proposed explanations ranging from residential segregation (e.g., Wilson 1987; Massey and Denton 1993) and discrimination (e.g., Pager 2003; Eberhardt et al. 2004; Bertrand and Mullainathan 2004) to differences in family structure (e.g., McAdoo 2002; Autor et al. 2016) and even genetics (e.g., Rushton and Jensen 2005)