SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Mossakowski, K. M. (2012). Racial/Ethnic inequality in wealth during young adulthood and midlife: A social-psychological perspective of middle class. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(5), 728–746.

Abstract: Our knowledge remains limited about why there are large racial/ethnic differences in wealth among the middle class in the United States. Owning a home and having positive net worth (i.e., more assets than debts) are important aspirations for the middle class because they signify wealth. This study uses a social-psychological perspective and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to explore whether the effects of psychological dispositions on these indicators of wealth differ for Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites. Results reveal that having a stronger sense of personal control over life and higher self-esteem significantly increase the odds of achieving positive net worth and homeownership, independent of demographics, educational attainment, current employment, income, and the socioeconomic status of the family of origin. Moreover, interaction effects indicate that the influence of internal locus of control on wealth is stronger for Whites than Blacks. Overall, this study’s findings suggest that the journey between social origins and destinations does not simply need socioeconomic resources, but also psychological resources that come from within the self-concept of the individual. The public policy and mental health implications for the Black middle class are discussed.

Journal Article 2: Ards, S. D., & Myers, Jr. S. L. (2001). The color of money: Bad credit, wealth, and race. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(2), 223–239.

Abstract: This article examines the myth of bad credit in the Black community. Historically, Blacks have had higher savings rates and lower use of credit than Whites. Discrimination in lending led to an aversion to credit. Later, Blacks believed their credit to be bad, even among many better qualified Black loan applicants. The authors find that there is no statistically significant difference in the average level of “bad credit” among Blacks and Whites who have been turned down for loans or who have not applied for loans, as seen in national data sets measuring wealth and expenditures. Contrary to conventional wisdom, no statistically significant difference exists in bad credit rates between Black and White households at the lowest and highest wealth levels. The authors contend that the observed differences in the bad credit rates between Blacks and Whites in the middle wealth range are attributable to different treatment of Blacks and Whites in credit markets.