Problems with Theories on the Black-White Wealth Gap
The wealth gap between white and black Americans is frequently discussed. Today it’s becoming popular to attribute disparities to black culture. Clearly all cultures are not equal, but can the subculture of some black American communities explain variations within the wealth gap?
For instance, fifty people in an inner-city neighborhood may engage in maladaptive activities; however, their actions are atypical of the broader black community. Discussing this issue is quite complicated since black culture is not monolithic. The culture of upper-class black Americans is different from that of their working-class peers. There are even subtle differences among various people from the working classes. Notwithstanding such nuances, the culture thesis is gaining widespread acceptance.
A popular view is that impoverished black Americans have developed a counterculture to cope with the realities of their environment. In many of his publications, the preeminent sociologist William Julius Wilson propounds that due to isolation from mainstream society inner-city blacks have devised a warped worldview to make sense of their realities. In an environment bereft of legitimate opportunity structures, deferring gratification appears impractical. Investing in the future seems illogical when the available evidence suggests that your prospects will not be different from your grandparents’. As such people may resort to illicit activities to satisfy their immediate priorities. Unfortunately, the allure of street life can be so great that some shun formal employment in favor of garnering street credit. Speaking to the Harvard Gazette, Wilson said: “Researchers find that for some young men, the draw of the street is so powerful they cannot avail themselves of legitimate employment opportunities when they become available.”
Where self-control is not valued, it’s easy to fathom a young man’s preference for the thrill of street exploits over the rigidity of a formal workplace. Studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between self-control and success, so the strength of the culture thesis is
Article from Mises Wire