Posted on January 13, 2023

Reparations for Black Americans Will Cost up to $14 Trillion and ‘Could Finally Lead To Closure,’ Economist Sandy Darity Says

Greg Robb, Market Watch, January 12, 2023

Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved have been excluded from full citizenship in the United States for the last 247 years — and granting them full citizenship will cost between $13 trillion and $14 trillion, economist William “Sandy” Darity told a conference of fellow U.S. economists last week.

To see the impact of second-class citizenship on Black Americans, look no further than the racial wealth gap, Darity, a professor of public policy at Duke University, said during a panel on inequality at the American Economic Association meetings.

The “central task” of reparations policy is to raise the level of Black assets to a level sufficient to match the average net worth of white Americans, Darity said. Only this will produce the material conditions for full citizenship for Black Americans, he said.

At present, the racial wealth gap exceeds an average of $300,000 per person, Darity said. The enormous expected cost of such a program is due to the estimate that there are roughly 40 million Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the U.S.


A reparations program of this magnitude “could finally lead to closure on the harms and damages of the nation’s racial history,” Darity said. Black Americans would have no further claims for race-specific restitution from the government, he said.

Where does Darity’s estimate come from? The destruction of Black property and exclusion of Black people from government programs that created wealth, he said.


Under Darity’s plan, recipients of reparations would have to prove they have at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the United States. (Many activists disagree with this approach and believe that descendants of Black immigrants, who also may have faced racial discrimination in the U.S., should be included.) The individual would also need to have self-identified as Black or African American for a dozen years before the reparations plan was approved.

To minimize the risk of inflation, the reparations plan might not come in the form of cash transfers, Darity said. The funds could be provided in the form of less-liquid assets like endowments, trust funds or annuities. {snip}


Darity said the current political environment for reparations “is more propitious than any other moment in my lifetime.”