The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide Is Hollowing Out America's Middle Class

Document Type

Issue/Research Brief/Blog

Publication Date



economic barriers, financial education, racial wealth gap


In this report, we examine Federal Reserve data over a 30-year period (1983-2013) to understand the growing racial wealth divide facing Black and Latino households at the median, and we explore the ways that accelerating declines in wealth for these communities are impacting the American middle class.

We also look at the racial wealth divide at the median over the next four and eight years, as well as to 2043, when the country’s population is predicted to become majority non-white. We also look to wealth rather than income to reconsider what it means to be middle class. In finding an ever-accelerating gap, we consider what it means for the American middle class and we explore what policy interventions could reverse the trends we see today. We find that without a serious change in course, the country is heading towards a racial and economic apartheid state.