ABC-CLIO

The Wealth of Races

The Present Value of Benefits from Past Injustices

by Richard F. America, ed.

 

This important compendium of ideas,data, and estimates of the economic effects of discrimination against blacks and of possible reparations to them is well written and edited by highly qualified experts with vast experience in their respective research fields. . . . the volume is highly recommended and should be indispensable to anyone working on the topic of discrimination and reparations. Choice

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Cover image for The Wealth of Races

August 1990

Praeger

Pages 240
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies

This collection of essays examines the question of how injustices of the past affect entire groups of people today and outlines the current beneficiaries of these injustices. Although discriminatory practices can be based on ethnicity, religion, and gender, this book focuses on one important type--racial discrimination--and deals with the way it affects both blacks and whites. The authors address the question from different perspectives and, although there is no real consensus as to what extent unjust enrichments currently exist because of past discrimination, the focus of several essays is on the need to systematically and equitably redistribute wealth. In beginning to explore these questions, the volume addresses the larger issues of how the costs and benefits of past practices can be measured and how historical injustices should affect current public policy matters.

The volume is organized in a straightforward manner intended to create an integrated discussion. An introductory essay charts the development of the project and offers a summary and critique of each essay. The first section explores the issue of slavery and current policy and considers the caution required when developing policy based on disputed models and assumptions. The second section examines the economic impact of slavery and discrimination on the functioning of the labor market. In the final section, some of the implications of redistribution policies are considered in relation to the various cost and benefit analyses. A final essay and conclusion sum up the study and outline the broad policy setting in which this work can take place. The book will be an important resource for courses in history, sociology, and public policy and an important addition to public and university libraries.

Table of Contents

IntroductionOverview and SummaryForty Acres and a Mule: Placing a Price Tag on OppressionEconomic History and the Current Benefits and Costs of SlaveryPast History and Current Policy: The Legacy of SlaveryWho Pays for Slavery?An Appraisal of the Estimated Rates of Slave ExploitationSlavery and the Economics of DiscriminationBlack Labor in the American Economy since Emancipation: What Are the Legacies of History?A Calculation and Comparison of the Current Benefits of Slavery and an Analysis of Who BenefitsEstimated Present Value of Income Diverted during SlaveryBlack Exploitation and White Benefits: The Civil War Income RevolutionSlave Exploitation in Neoclassical Economics: Criticism and an Alternative DirectionAchieving Racial Equality through RestitutionRacial Inequality and ReparationsAn Illustrative Estimate: The Present Value of the Benefits from Racial Discrimination, 1929-1969Income Transfers: Are They Compensation for Past Discrimination?The Social Debt to Blacks: A Case for Affirmative ActionWhat Was Lost: The Cost of Slavery and Discrimination for BlacksAchieving Parity through ReparationsConclusionsSelected BibliographyIndex

Reviews/Endorsements

Reviews

This important compendium of ideas, data, and estimates of the economic effects of discrimination against blacks and of possible reparations to them is well written and edited by highly qualified experts with vast experience in their respective research fields. The main work is set in neoclassical terms. However, the neoclassical approach is subjected to well-deserved criticism because of its unrealistic assumptions and limited coverage of the costs of discrimination. Several important findings may be noted: the gap between wages and incomes of blacks and whites is as wide in the 1980s as it was at the beginning of the century; whichever method is applied to estimate losses suffered by the blacks, the present value of these losses would run into trillions of dollars; and, though the dispensation of any such reparations would raise issues of why, how, to whom, and with what impact, there is now more willingness to talk about reparations than ever before. Although philosophical and moral issues are touched on, the economic costs and benefits of slavery occupy the primary position in the discussion. And although readers may question the methods used to compute reparations, the volume is highly recommended and should be indispensable to anyone working on the topic of discrimination and reparations.—Choice

These essays cover a lot of ground and are essential reading for an understanding of the major factors behind contemporary political conflict in South Asia.— Journal of Third World Studies

Awards

Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 1991 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award

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