Akee on Lack of Data on Financial Situation of Native Communities

Randall Akee, professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin, commented in a Marketplace report about a Federal Reserve annual survey that provides information about the financial situation of U.S. households. While the survey reports, overall, that a majority of respondents indicate they are doing “OK” financially, it provides no information about American Indians and Alaska Natives. The survey showed that racial and ethnic gaps persist, with Black and Hispanic respondents reporting lower levels of financial security compared to white and Asian American respondents. However, data on Native communities was not sufficient to compare rigorously with other groups. Akee said other measures track with what researchers know about lower average incomes, limited employment opportunities and poor credit access in many Native communities, but limitations such as small sample sizes can exclude up to 60% of respondents. “You have to be creative in thinking about, OK, the perfect data doesn’t exist. However, how can I get close to that?” Akee said.


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