On average, White people in their 30s have $147,000 more in wealth than their Black counterparts. By the time they reach their 60s, that economic gap widens to $1.1 million. That’s according to a report released last week (May 13) by Urban Institute that seeks to eliminate the driving forces behind that disparity. 

The report, “Structural Racism,” synthesizes insights from leading policymakers, advocates and experts on possible remedies to the dangerous, long-term consequences of structural racism. While the study focuses largely on the disparities between White and Black people, the authors say these ideas can also close disparity gaps for Native American, Latinx and Asian people. 

Equity gaps have been woven into the fabric of the United States since its founding, per the report:

These gaps are wide and deeply entrenched. Racist policies and practices have been part of the nation since its inception, practiced by “founding fathers” and presidents who wrote and spoke about equality while engaging in the purchase, bondage and sale of people of African descent. These policies were intended to subjugate people of color and afford dominance to White people.

To reverse those harms, experts propose four solutions that address the racial wealth gap, school inequities, punitive policing, and employment and earning disparities. 

One potential remedy focuses on ending racist policing, which creates significant economic harm and makes it more difficult for people of color to transfer wealth across generations. When anyone encounters the criminal justice system, they are at risk of accruing massive debt from bail, court and legal fees, and likely find it difficult to acquire housing and employment. This reality is exacerbated for African Americans, who make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but constitute 27 percent of all arrests, according to data cited from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The briefing suggests that policymakers at the local, state and federal level divest from carceral systems and instead invest resources into services focused on health, education, employment and community mediation. “A call to end punitive policing is a call to end policing as we know it,” the report asserts.

Read a breakdown of all four of the Urban Institute’s suggestions here.