Do American Blacks have it better or worse off than they did in 1960 ?

Discussion in 'Economics & Trade' started by kazenatsu, Apr 28, 2024.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The median black male income in 1960 was $3,230. Adjusted for standard inflation, that would be equivalent to $33,250 (in 2023). (source here)

    The median black household income in 2023 is $52,860. That is household income, which often includes two income earners.

    According to statistics from the Social Security Administration, the median income for black males between the ages of 30 to 39 is $41,600 (as of 2021). (source here)

    The median house in 1960 cost $11,900.
    In 2023, the median house cost $417,700.

    Doing some quick calculations we can see that:
    In 1960, the price of a house was 3.7 times that of yearly black male income.
    In 2023, the price of a house was 7.9 times that of yearly black household income.


    In 1960, the standard of living in America had been rapidly improving over the previous couple of years. Blacks were beginning to demand additional rights and fair treatment (the whole "Civil Rights" movement).

    It can be argued that Blacks have largely obtained full equality of opportunity.

    But are average American blacks actually better off economically than they were in 1960?


    Some additional statistics:
    In 1960, 61% of black adult men were married. (source here)
    By 2022, that had fallen to 34.4% (and only 28.6% for black women). (source here)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2024
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  2. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I don't see what connection you're trying to make here. It is true that general standard of living and income (though also cost of living) have massively increased across the US over the past few decades. It is also true that black Americans still have proportionally lower than average income, and that proportion has largely remained the same. The raising tide lifts all boats but while some sun themselves on the top decks, others remain stuck in the bilges.

    Also, while income and cost of living can be key consequences of equal rights, they're not the be-all and end-all, and people can be doing financially better than they used to but still be victims of bias and discrimination (on whatever basis). For example, since Jewish Americans have disproportionally higher than average incomes would you say that means they can't be discriminated against?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2024
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  3. Bowerbird

    Bowerbird Well-Known Member

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    Since there is no such thing as “race” why is there any and I mean any discrimination based on skin colour?
     
  4. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Why the emphasis on "equality"? Doesn't it only really matter how people are doing in absolute terms?

    It sounds like Blacks got equality, but are now (on average) worse off, economically.
     
  5. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I didn't emphasise equality any more than you did in opening the topic and my point you quoted was that bias and discrimination can (and still does) exist, regardless of any broader trends in equality.

    How people are doing in absolute terms is what really matters for individuals, but if you're comparing broad groups (by time or category), you're talking in relative terms by definition. The statistics are just cold data anyway, the key is interpretation and conclusions based on them (which is why I only quoted your conclusions).

    I don't think "getting equality" is a simple concept, nor is it likely possible for pretty much any group (even nominally dominant ones, if only because of that perception). There have certainly been massive improvements in the legal rights and social treatment of black people in the US since the 60s but as I said, that doesn't mean that significant bias and discrimination can't still exist.

    Regardless, comparing the income of black Americans in the 1960s with black Americans today doesn't really tell us anything about how the general treatment of black Americans compared to white Americans has changed over that period. And since black Americans are still proportionally worse off than white Americans, maybe that supports my point about "getting equality" not being a simple binary.
     
  6. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Perhaps I am wrong, but I would venture a guess that the issue of economic wellbeing would be of far greater importance to African Americans than how they are "treated".

    Suppose we went back to 1960, during the Civil Rights movement, and told one of the activists they individually could get everything they wanted, and would never suffer any racial mistreatment, but they would have to suffer a 20% decrease in their income in exchange. How many would actually have been anxious or willing to take up that offer?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2024
  7. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Why is that an either-or in the first place? This kind of falls back to my question of what your point was with the OP in the first place (which you never answered).

    The fact black Americans today are financially better off than black Americans in the 60s (glossing over the complications of cost of living) doesn't strike me as especially significant given that pretty much any grouping of Americans you might care to pick out will be financially better off today than the same group were in the 60s. There doesn't seem to be any evidence (certainly nothing you presented) that their being black is in any way relevant. So again, what exactly is your point?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2024
  8. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Are they financially better off?

    It doesn't seem so clear to me.

    They might only be just a little better off, or possibly in a worse overall financial position.

    I presented the statistical figures. People are free to try to interpret those numbers as they want, or find additional statistics to inject into the discussion.

    I presume everyone here is intelligent enough to take the numbers I've provided and try to make sense of them, interpret what they mean.
    I hope I do not presume too much...
     
  9. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I'm having some trouble finding the percentage of black households (or even just of all households, regardless of race) that consist of only one adult.
    But I think we can do some rudimentary calculation to come up with an estimate.

    In 2011, 18.9% of black households were made up of a single parent with children. (source here)

    In 2022, about 35.77 percent of all households in the United States were one person households. (source here)

    Add 18.9 and 35.8 to get 54.7, which means the remainder (100 - 54.7) is 45.3 , so 45.3% of black households would have two (or more) adults.

    In 2017, 35 percent of all households were nonfamily households, and 28 percent were one-person households. (source here)
    This suggests the percentage of one-person households rapidly increased between 2017 and 2022.

    In 1960, 61% of black adult men were married.

    75 percent of black children lived in two-parent households in 1960. In 1982 it was 42.7 percent. (source here)

    That means we can assume that about 25 percent of black adults were unmarried but with children.
    Add 61 and 25 to get 86, which means the remainder (100 - 86 is 14 , so 14% of black households (in 1960 ) were one-person households.

    So in more modern times, we estimated that 45.3% of black households consist of only one adult.
    In 1960, we estimate that only 14% of black households consist of only one adult.

    What percent of black women were working in 1960?

    One out of eight women workers in 1960, or about 13 percent, was nonwhite. (source here)
    In 1960, blacks made up 10.5% of the total U.S. population. (source here)
    That means black women were 23.8% more likely to work than the average for the total U.S. population in 1960.

    The proportion of married women who work jumped from 22 percent in 1950 to 31 percent in 1960. (source here)

    In 1950, the overall labor participation rate of women was 34 percent. The rate rose to 38 percent in 1960. (source here)

    38 times 1.238
    That means 47% of black women worked in 1960.

    Maybe we can guess that 38.4% of married black women worked. (31 times 1.238 )
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2024

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