Thursday, December 04, 2008

Will the Real Hard Workers and Risk Takers Please Stand Up.

Increasingly, as we watch the so-called "hard workers" and "risk takers" take the money and run, after they already took the money and ran, it's clear that getting ahead and succeeding in life depends less on hard work and/or a willingness to take risks and much more to do with where you come from and who you know. In addition, being white and male does not hurt.

The Consumer Federation of America, reports that 31 million or 26% of all households headed only by a woman are in much worse financial condition than other Americans.

The typical (median) household income of the women was $22,592 while that of all households was $43,130. The wealth-gap is even greater than the income-gap. Women on their own had a median net worth of $32,850 compared to $93,001 for all households.

According to the Fed data, 31 million households are headed by women on their own ­ 9 million by the never married, 12 million by the divorced or separated, and 9 million by the widowed. The never married tend to be young, with over half being under 35-years of age. The divorced or separated tend to be middle-aged, with over half being between 35 and 55 years of age. And the widowed tend to be old, with well over two-thirds being at least 65-years of age.
The Gini coefficient measures income inequality, showing how evenly distributed the wealth of a nation is.

For example, if Joe, the hamburger flipper and Bill Gates the CEO earned exactly the same salary, the Gini would be zero. On the other hand, if Bill Gates earned all the money in the nation, the Gini would be 100. The higher the number the greater the income inequality in the country. Obviously, a country's Gini coefficient falls somewhere in between these two values. The closer the number is to zero, the greater the spread of wealth in the country. The Census Bureau's Gini number for America peaked in 2006 at 47, before dropping slightly to 46.3 last year.

Recognizing how expensive it is to be poor, Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, in Oakland, CA who as a minority and female head of household has experienced what it's like to keep your head above water when the odds are stacked against you, is doing her best to level the playing field.

Links:

Calculating America's Wealth. Compare your salary history with what might be predicted for someone your sex, age, race, occupation, or region.

Mint.com has been named the best online personal finance tool by Money Magazine, PC Magazine, and is PC World’s Editor’s Choice.

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