Racial Wealth Gap Tripled Since Reagan Era As Whites Increased Large Lead Over Blacks: Study

The wealth gap between blacks and whites has ballooned since the middle of the Reagan administration, nearly tripling between 1984 and 2009, according to a new Brandeis University study.

The study, released Wednesday, found that the median white household held a net worth of $265,000 by 2009, eight times more than the median black household's net worth of just $28,500. That division will continue to haunt black Americans for years to come, according to Tatjana Meschede, a co-author of the study.

"The gap presents an opportunity denied for many African American households and assures racial economic inequality for the next generation," Meschede said in a statement.

The study, which followed 1,700 households between 1984 and 2009, attributed the growing racial wealth gap to a variety of disparities:

-- Homeownership: White households are 28 percent more likely to own their home than black households, according to the study.

-- Income: The average white person's income was $29,401 per year in 2011, while the average black person's income was just $18,357, according to the Census Bureau.

-- Unemployment: The black unemployment rate was 13.8 percent in January, while the white unemployment rate was only 7 percent, according to the Labor Department.

-- College education: Roughly 29 percent of whites age 25 and older held a bachelor's degree or graduate degree between 2006 and 2010, compared to only 18 percent of blacks in the same age group, according to the Census Bureau.

-- Inheritance: Whites were five times more likely to receive an inheritance than blacks between 1984 and 2009, according to the Brandeis study.

The Census Bureau reported last year that the median white household held a net worth of $110,729 in 2010, while the median black household held a net worth of just $4,995, a disparity even greater than that reported by the Brandeis University study.

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