Historical Mechanisms Connecting Home Values Over Three Generations to Contemporary Black-White Disparities in Wealth and Health
Nick Graetz1
1University of Pennsylvania

The Black-white wealth gap in the United States has persisted and widened since the 1960s. Descriptive and qualitative analyses have identified many mechanisms underlying wealth correlations across successive generations, but few studies have quantified the relative contributions of these interconnected and racialized systems to the total gap we observe today. Using data from the PSID, I define wealth and health gaps in 2017 between the grandchildren of those racialized as Black vs. white in 1968. I use a fully interacted 3-way mediation framework to decompose this disparity to the historical, racialized contributions of 1) direct effects of home values in 1968 on home values in successive generations and 2) indirect effects via educational attainment in successive generations. Findings from this study contribute to understanding the dynamic, racialized process of multigenerational wealth accumulation and support the importance of social policy centered on reparative justice.