What does it take to be a millionaire in the United States of America? There is one very important step.
Bloomberg has done us all the public service of assembling data about the odds of becoming a millionaire in the US—broken down by race, age, and education levels. “Of these three demographic characteristics, race stuck out as especially dominant in determining a person’s net worth.” Surprise! For a brief snapshot of American economic opportunity, here are the percentage of middle-aged, college-educated Americans who are millionaires:
Those, again, are figures for people of similar ages and educational levels. The figures also show that while white and Asian Americans see their chances of becoming a millionaire rise dramatically with their age and educational levels, black and Hispanic Americans see only a small increase in chances.
Even if we had “equal opportunity” in this country—which we do not—it’s hard to achieve equal outcomes when people of certain races start out with much, much less wealth than people of other races. Want economic equality? Want political equality? Want racial equality? Fix the racial wealth gap in America. Until we do that, everything is empty rhetoric.