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April 20, 2014

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Minority Children Start Poor, Stay Poor

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Children of color are four times more likely than their white peers to be born into a poor family and suffer a lifetime of consequences, ranging from diminished academic standing to increased financial insecurity, a report released Thursday found.

Beyond financial comfort, even practical dreams of education and savings remain an elusive idea for many nonwhite Americans. The nation's racial wealth disparity is more pronounced in the lives of children, the study, prepared by the California-based Insight Center for Community Economic Development, revealed.

"You could say that, 'oh these poor children of color, they are doing so badly. We should help them out of...generosity,'" said Trina Shanks, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, who authored the report. "But this is a different conversation. What we are saying here is look at the numbers. Children of color will represent the majority of children in the United States in 2024, 2024. Right now, so many of these children are living and learning in conditions that diminish their potential as early as two years old. If we...help families build just the most basic of assets, it can benefit the country over a longer period of time."

In about 13 years, the population of black, Latino, Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander youths is expected to collectively outpace the number of white children living in the United States.

Right now, Latino, black and Native American children under the age of five are three times as likely as their white and certain Asian counterparts to live in households with very little income and sometimes, zero assets, the study found. And even when children of color come from homes that do hold wealth-building assets, the value of what their families own is generally worth less than that of white children, according to the report.

That is why some white Americans who don't earn high incomes or build their own assets can still turn to their parents or other relatives for financial help when it is time, for instance, to move to a better school district. But many families of color don't have relatives with deeper pockets, Shanks said.

"There will be people who look at this study and say, you know, I can provide a little help to my family if the time comes," said Shanks. "...But what you are essentially saying is, you don't mind people who have historically had more continuing to have more. You are almost guaranteeing that inequities are going to continue over time."

Read more at The Huffington Post

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