Three quarters of black women are concerned about not making ends meet according to the massive Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last month. Even though black women have made strides in education, many feel unprepared and ill-equipped to compete in today’s job market.
Despite experiencing financial difficulties, black women continue to assist friends and family financially. The study found that “36 percent of black women said they regularly help friends or family with child care, compared with 24 percent of white women. And 49 percent said they regularly assist elderly relatives, while 39 percent of white women did.”
Black women’s propensity to help others matches what researchers have long known about black families: they support each other more than other groups, even if they have less money to go around.
The Washington Post reports:
“I think many African Americans feel a special obligation to those family members who have not done as well,” said Margaret Simms, a fellow at the Urban Institute and director of the group’s Low-Income Working Families project, who led the organization’s study, which did not take gender into consideration. “When you have higher incidences of unemployment and poverty in the African American community, you find that their better-off kin will be more likely to give.”
Experts who have studied these trends said that black families’ generosity may come with consequences. A 2005 study by economists N.S. Chiteji and Darrick Hamilton found that black families, more than their white counterparts, struggle to build wealth because of the financial circumstances of their relatives.
“It may be that basic character traits like compassion and generosity combined with the tendency to have less fortunate relatives may actually explain the adverse outcomes experienced by some middle-class families,” said Chiteji, a professor of economics at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Despite experiencing financial difficulties, black women are still optimistic about life. Unlike their white counterparts, a majority of the black women surveyed (51%) reported being “very satisfied” with their lives.
What do you think about the survey results? Do you find yourself helping out friends and family?