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Blacks' wealth building weakened by competing financial priorities

Lagging investment product ownership also highlighted

5/21/2013, 2:54 p.m.
The results of a new study has found that competing priorities and fewer investment products constrict African Americans’ ability to ...

Student loan debt also was reported as a significant obstacle to wealth building for African Americans. College-educated African Americans are twice as likely to have student loan debt, proof of economic progress while at the same time hampering the ability to save or invest.

In addition, the study finds African Americans own insurance products, such as life and disability, at equal or greater rates compared to the general population, but are about half as likely as the general population to own investment products, such as IRAs, mutual funds, stocks and bonds.

Nearly half of African Americans say they have a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, and 8 in 10 of those currently eligible are contributing. However, African Americans’ balances within employer plans are less than half those of the general population’s, in part due to the impact of loans and withdrawals. And 3 in 10 have taken loans from their plan, citing the need to repay other debt.

The study is based on a March 2013 poll of 1,153 Americans who identify as African American or Black and 471 general population Americans on a broad range of financial topics. Respondents are age 25-70, with a household income of $25,000 or more and some involvement in household financial decisions. Among those meeting the survey criterion of $25,000 or more in household income, the median household income was $61,000. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 5% for African Americans and +/- 6% for the general population.