Whites are no longer the most well-off race in America, according to a new study on income inequality by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Irvine.
“Americans have long [considered] whites as the most privileged, highest income earners and blacks as the least,” said Stanley Bailey, UCI associate professor of sociology, in a statement.
But that’s an outdated notion.
The study, published in the online journalDemographic Research, found Asians have the highest per capita household income in the U.S. Whites came in second, followed by multiracial Americans and African Americans.
Native Americans have the lowest average income. Latinos have the second-lowest, which was surprising to Bailey.
“We actually do control for immigrant status and for education with that Latino finding, and those two things do not significantly effect the gap we’re finding,” Bailey told KPCC.
Bailey says the study shows we need to look at racial inequality differently; skin color doesn’t always matter and what people call themselves can be as important as what they look like.
“Because if you think about Latinos you’ll understand they span the color spectrum but we find skin color really isn’t that important in terms of targeting their household income,” said Bailey. “It’s their status as Latinos.”
The study also looked at 18 other countries across the Americas, and it found similar racial stratification in all of them. However, researchers found differences in whether income inequality is determined by skin color.
“Racial inequality in Brazil looks different than in Mexico or Uruguay,” Bailey said in a statement. “In fact, in Panama and Honduras, people with the darkest skin are actually the most advantaged in terms of average household income. There, because of particular histories of immigration and exclusion, the typical notion of racial inequality is turned on its head.”