Also: Baltimore’s cannabis stalemate, and why the water sector needs more women leaders.

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What We’re Following

Mind the gap: Scholars have often explained America’s racial wealth disparity by pointing to clear snapshots in history: Slavery, redlining, segregation, and other racist policies allowed whites to accumulate wealth while eliminating wealth opportunities for African Americans. Today, white households have nearly 6.5 times the wealth of black households. But new research finds that while all those initial conditions may have created the wealth gap, it’s been kept alive over the years by unequal income.

Under a hypothetical scenario, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland predicted that if the pay scale between blacks and whites had been equal since 1962, the gap would have closed by 2007. Instead, unequal income accounted for more than 80 percent of the wealth gap by the 1990s (as shown in purple in the chart above). But previous research has denied that income was a major factor in the wealth gap, and another scholar tells CityLab’s Brentin Mock that wages alone can’t fix it. “I don’t imagine a world where you could simply close the income gap and everything else just falls into place,” she says. Today on CityLab: Why Can’t We Close the Racial Wealth Gap?

Andrew Small


More on CityLab

For Weed Arrests in Baltimore, It’s Catch-and-Release Season

Baltimore prosecutors won’t charge people for marijuana possession, but police are still making arrests. Result: a hazy cannabis stalemate.

Ethan McLeod

Why the Water Sector Needs More Women Leaders

In many countries, women collect water and manage its use in the home, but they are underrepresented in decision-making about this vital natural resource.

Nicole Javorsky

‘Unprecedented’ U.S. Flood Season Will Imperil Millions, Experts Warn

Two-thirds of the lower 48 states will have a heightened risk until May, NOAA forecast says, after severe flooding in the Midwest.

Oliver Milman

Understanding the New Mormon Temple in Rome

Despite its olive trees and piazza, the new temple will look familiar to American eyes.

Amanda Kolson Hurley

Photographing Istanbul’s Charming Painted Signs

Captured in a new book, they serve as a delightful snapshot into the city’s recent history.

Feargus O'Sullivan


What We’re Reading

Tech companies want to change how you buy a home (Curbed)

The Vessel is a stairway to what, exactly? (The Baffler)

Congestion pricing is New York’s Green New Deal (The Nation)

Gentrification is most concentrated in large cities (Route Fifty)

The shift away from private vehicles will happen faster than we think (New York Times)


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