Busting The Myth Of The American Dream: Meet William Darity

Apr 10, 2017

William (Sandy) Darity is an economist and scholar at Duke University who studies how race, class, and gender affect wealth disparities.
Credit Duke University Sanford School School of Public Policy

Why are some people rich and others poor? Answering this elusive question has been the lifelong work of economist William (Sandy) Darity. Darity was an observant child, and from an early age he picked up on how wealth disparities divide communities. 

While his family was living abroad, he noticed that an Egyptian beach he was visiting looked different at various points along the coast based on which communities had access to it. He noticed similar distinctions while spending time in his grandmother’s hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, where black and white communities were divided by railroad tracks that ran through the town.

"Blacks with a college degree have 2/3 of the net worth of whites who never finished high school...If we are concerned about the racial wealth gap it has to be addressed through reparations."

Darity studied economics at MIT and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and later pioneered the subfield of stratification economics, an interdisciplinary approach to understanding economic inequality. It looks at how structures and policies, rather than individual behavior, impact the wealth of different subgroups. Host Frank Stasio talks with Darity, director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, about his life and work.

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