(picture description: A graph depicting the disparity of American income distribution by race. 8% of blacks occupy the top quintile while 21% of whites do. 6% of blacks occupy the fourth quintile while 23% of whites do. 16% of blacks occupy the third quintile while 23% of whites do. 37% of blacks occupy the second quintile while 20% of whites do. 32% of blacks occupy the first quintile while 14% of whites do.)
"“Even black Americans who make it to the middle class are likely to see their kids fall down the ladder,” writes Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. In a recent blog post Reeves says that seven out of 10 black children who are born to families with income that falls in the middle quintile of the income spectrum will find themselves with income that's one to two quintiles below their parents' during their own adulthood.
A 2014 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which looked at factors like parental income, education, and family structure, shows a similar pattern: Many black Americans not only fail to move up, but show an increased likelihood of backsliding. According to the study, “In recent decades, blacks have experienced substantially less upward intergenerational mobility and substantially more downward intergenerational mobility than whites.”
The greater probability of slipping back applies to blacks across income groups. According to the Fed study, about 60 percent of black children whose parents had income that fell into the top 50 percent of the distribution saw their own income fall into the bottom half during adulthood. This type of downward slide was common for only 36 percent of white children."