Economic Disparities

Individual faculty members working in separate departments have already established Berkeley as the pre-eminent source of scholarly research on economic disparities, their class implications, as well as their relationship to forms of marginalization such as race, ethnicity, gender, etc. The research of these scholars has already informed national debates on the topic and helped in the formulation of policies. With the support of the Haas Diversity Research Center, we propose to coordinate and extend this internationally regarded work in the social sciences—in the analysis of policy, in the development of economic methodology, and in the emphasis on spatial analysis — to solidify Berkeley’s position as the leader in research on economic disparities, their relationship to forms of marginalization, and the policies to address the resultant and contingent inequities. Inequality in income and wealth has grown dramatically in the United States over the last generation. In 2009, about 44 million people lived in poverty — an increase of ten percent from the previous year. The determinants and consequences of inequality are the major focus of our common effort in this proposal and an implicit motive for much of our work. This inequality is even more apparent by race, gender, ethnicity and other disadvantaged subgroups. The average wages of African-Americans and Latinos are two-thirds those of Whites/Anglos, and racial disparities in personal wealth are even greater. Latinos, for example, are approximately two and a half times more likely than whites to have zero or negative net worth. Three-quarters of whites own their own homes, compared to fewer than half of Latinos and African Americans.

Faculty Members