It is not as if there is a lack of insight, Sunday speeches and warm words. On the contrary: US politicians repeatedly complain that ethnic minorities in the country are economically disadvantaged and excluded from participating in growth and prosperity. Hours later, however, most white citizens have forgotten the subject again, which may also have to do with the fact that the discrimination against blacks and Latinos does not bring any disadvantages for them. Or is it?
A study by four female economists, including Mary Daly, President of the regional central bank of San Francisco, has now come to the conclusion that it is by no means only the directly affected groups who suffer from the inequality, but that the majority of the population cuts their own flesh through their ignorance . The experts provide a specific figure: According to their study, the serious economic, social and societal inequality in the country has cost the United States an almost unimaginable 51 trillion dollars (around 43 trillion euros) in economic output over the past 30 years.
There are many arguments against such calculations: that they are very theoretical, that they ignore numerous influencing factors and are based on dozens of assumptions, in which the smallest shift leads to a different total. But that doesn’t change the fact that the study revealed the whole dimension of the problem for the first time, because basically it doesn’t matter whether the prosperity losses from three decades are 30, 50 or 70 trillion dollars: From a political point of view, each is one of these Numbers are basically out of the question.
African Americans earn eight dollars less an hour
From Daly’s point of view, the decisive factor is the realization that large and lasting ethnic differences in the employment rate, level of education and income opportunities not only harm those directly affected, but “make the economic pie for the nation as a whole smaller” https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft /. “The imperative to create more equality and to close at least some of these gaps is not just a moral one, it is also an economic one,” said the head of the regional central bank, which is responsible for the entire western US. Daly is also a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, the most important body in the US Federal Reserve.
Many examples show how different working life is for many Americans – depending on their skin color, their origin and their social status. Black workers earn an average of eight dollars an hour less than white workers, unemployment among African-Americans is significantly higher, and the wages of black and white women are even diverging further and further. White Americans and those with Asian roots are also much more likely to have jobs that correspond to their level of education than blacks and people with a Latin American background. They often have to live with simpler jobs even after they graduate from college.
The US is destroying its founding myth
Daly and her co-authors Lily Seitelman, Laura Choi and Shelby Buckman have now calculated in their study for the Brookings Institute in Washington how much more economic output would have increased since 1990 if the number of university degrees, the participation rates and wages for blacks had been and whites, Latinos and Asian Americans, women and men have been identical over the entire period. If only the direct effects are taken as a basis, the study found that gross domestic product would have been almost $ 23 trillion higher than it actually was. That is more than the total of the United States is making in a full year today. If you then factor in the fact that such a significantly more productive workforce would also result in dramatically higher investments, you arrive at a total of a good 51 trillion dollars, which according to the study has escaped the US in terms of economic output.
Daly points out that the problem is likely to get worse in the coming years as the proportion of non-white Americans in the total population grows. The US, according to the Federal Reserve Chairman, is not only losing ground in the competition with other countries, it is also increasingly undermining its founding myth, according to which every American has a right to economic participation and self-determination according to his skills and diligence. Politics and business must understand that it is not a matter of distributing the existing cake differently. “It’s about making the cake bigger.”