Dzifa is a hard-working, immigrant woman who overcame some serious odds to recently get her Ph.D from the University of California, Los Angeles, in Public Health. Highly educated and gainfully employed with a coveted post doctoral fellowship position, Dzifa is closer to achieve her dream of conducting research to make a difference in the lives of women in her home country, Ghana. It seems Dzifa is winning at life by most standards.
Yet, Dzifa’s accomplishments also come at a huge price. Financing her education on her own, she carries more than $100,000 in student debt. As a result, she lives on an extremely tight budget and grapples with finding side gigs to help her with the high cost of living and making her way out of this enormous debt. Rather than taking on research she knows can make a difference, she takes on projects that are stable and adequately funded.
A black woman, Dzifa’s precarious economic position is not an anomaly. In my work with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development in Oakland, we recently released a report called Women, Race and Wealth that looks at the stark differences in wealth accumulation between white and black women across age, marital status, and educational attainment.
The report highlights some staggering data on the state of educated black women in America. The typical single black woman in her 20s and with a college degree is $11,000 in debt. Married black women with a college degree in their 30s are $20,000 in debt.
The average white woman does not show debt at any age, regardless of educational attainment. In fact, single white women without a college degree have $3,000 more in median wealth than single black…
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