Savings and Investing Among Higher-Income African-Americans and White Americans


Ariel Capital Management L.L.C. and The Charles Schwab Corp. co-sponsor the annual Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey, a random sample survey of 500 Black and 500 white households earning more than $50,000 annually. The 2007 Survey, the tenth, was administered by telephone between June 23 and July 14. The margin of error is approximately 4.5 percent. Here are the key findings:

• African-American stock market participation is at the same level as it was 10 years ago: at a low of 57 percent (compared to a high of 74 percent in 2002). White investing is at 76 percent this year.

• Even when all other significant demographic factors are held constant (age, income, gender, education and so on), whites are nearly twice as likely as African-Americans to
be investors.

• While 56 percent of whites say that retirement is their most important goal for saving and investing, only 40 percent
of African-Americans see retirement as their priority. All else being equal (income, age, etc.), Blacks are 50 percent less likely to say retirement is their primary saving and investing goal.
• Preference for real estate as an investment is at a five-year low, with 45 percent of Blacks and 34 percent of whites saying that it is the “best investment overall.”

• African-Americans continue to lag behind their white counterparts in monthly savings. Blacks save an average (median) of $182 a month, while whites save an average of $261 a month. Of those who are working and who have retirement accounts, Blacks save an average (median) of $173 in those accounts, while whites save an average of $252.

• The overall value of savings and investments is an average (median) of $48,000 for Blacks and $100,000 for whites.

• Of those who invest, more African-Americans (55 percent) than whites (47 percent) report that they first started investing as a result of having a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.

•  When asked which is a bigger worry: day-to-day expenses, or having enough money to retire, 41 percent of African-Americans cited expenses, and 59 percent cited retirement. In contrast, only 29 percent of whites cited expenses and 71 percent cited retirement.