America’s minority groups face a host of important economic issues, despite the current focus on police brutality. Indeed, when it comes to addressing inequality, economic, education and family issues are far more important than police brutality.
Real median household income by race in 2018 illustrates wide income disparities in the U.S.: Asian real median household income is $87,194, White $68,100 and Hispanic $51,450. Black median household income, by comparison, is $41,361.
Black household income is $45,800 below that of Asian American households. How can this be? Is race why the household income of Asian Americans is more than double that of African Americans? Or are there other reasons?
First, consider years of education. The premise is that more years of education, in general, is associated with higher income.
High school graduation rates is one measure. For Asian Americans, the high school graduation rate is 92%, higher than for Whites (89%), Hispanic (81%) or Black Americans (79%). Similarly, the percentages that complete a 4-year college degree are Asians 58.1%, non-Hispanic whites 40.1%, Black Americans 26.1% and Hispanics 18.8%.
Employment, labor force participation, incomes and improvements in human capital are tied to education and skills. Parents want their children to have a high school education and most parents support school choice and education saving accounts, including Hispanics and African-Americans, as a way to achieve a quality high school education.
Yet, the National Education Association opposes both school choice and vouchers and supports the political party that also opposes school choice and vouchers. That position is detrimental to productivity gains and economic growth for all Americans.
The household income gap of Asian-Americans over other groups in the U.S. can likely be traced to their education levels and family characteristics. One characteristic that receives little attention is the percentage of children within each group born to single mothers.
The numbers are stark.
For Asian-Americans in 2018 it was 11.7%, White 28.2%, Hispanic 51.8% and Black 69.4%. Imbedded in higher household incomes for Asian-Americans vs. other racial groups may be that the presence of a two-parent family leads to a better education and income experience for their children.
The idea of a two-parent household being a positive for children has been widely accepted for decades. But that acceptance may be fading as major social institutions and organizations no longer emphasisze the importance of two-parent families.
A major portion of the difference between Asian and Black household income may reflect two parents working in Asian households, and one person working with fewer years of education in Black households. This difference has nothing to do with race, but with the family choices that people make.
Police brutality, as indicated, appears to be less important compared to other issues. An issue of major importance is the high number of Black homicides in 2018, 7,407, vs 6,008 for white. Blacks make up only 13.5% of the U.S. population, yet they have more homicides. Estimates show that nearly 90% of Black homicides are Black on Black. Likewise, over 80% of white homicides are white on white.
Data on fatal police shootings of unarmed victims in 2019 are preliminary. But there may have been a range of 25 to 30 unarmed white victims and 15 to 20 unarmed Black victims. This is just 0.5% of all white homicide victims and a mere 0.2% of all Black homicide victims.
These deaths from police shootings are tragic, but they are overwhelmed by the total number of white and Black homicides. As such, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that the best way to narrow inequalities in our society might be to push for school choice and encourage the highly successful two-parent model for children, instead of blaming law enforcement for every racial disparity.
Mike Cosgrove, principal at Econoclast, a Dallas-based capital markets firm, is a professor at the University of Dallas