The challenging goal of elder economic security — having enough income to live independently and afford a no-frills budget in later life — is dramatically more difficult for older adults of color across America, new research from the University of Massachusetts Boston shows.
Half of all older adults living alone and 23% of older couples live with some degree of economic insecurity, according to the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute. A new report calculating racial disparities within those numbers shows rates of economic insecurity among Black, Latino, and Asian older adults far exceeding those of white adults and the overall national average.
The report also details the economic insecurity levels of older adults of color in individual states and the states in which racial disparities are greatest.
“Economic security is a serious problem for older adults across the United States,” said professor Jan Mutchler, lead author of the report. “But the situation is much more dire among older adults of color and the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has almost certainly made their economic circumstances even worse.”
The report found that among Black older adults, 64% of singles and 34% of couples were economically insecure. Among Latino elders, 72% of those living alone and 49% of couples had income insufficient to meet basic costs where they lived. Among older Asian adults, 59% of singles and 36% of couples were unable to reach economic security.
Among white older adults, 47% of singles and 21% of couples were economically insecure.
The report determined rates of economy security using expense data generated by the Elder Index, UMass Boston’s free online resource that calculates realistic monthly expenses for older adults in every state and county in the U.S. It matched that information with state-level data on the incomes of older adults by racial group to determine levels of economic insecurity.
“Nationwide, the pattern of higher rates of economic insecurity among older adults of color is clear,” said Mutchler.
The rates of economic insecurity experienced by older Black adults were higher than those of their white counterparts in nearly every state in America. The rate for Black singles ranged from 46% in West Virginia to 80% in Rhode Island. Disparities in rates of economic insecurity between Black and white older single adults were highest in the District of Columbia (39 percentage points), Rhode Island (29 percentage points), and South Carolina and Mississippi (each 26 percentage points).
Economic insecurity rates were also higher for Latino older adults, compared with white elders. Latino elder economic insecurity ranged from 38% in Kentucky to 90% in Massachusetts.
The rate of economic insecurity for older Asian adults was higher than that of their white counterparts in most states. The rates for single older Asians ranged from 35% in Indiana to 80% in Massachusetts.
Contact: Steven.Syre@umb.edu, 617-365-0116
Living Below the Line
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Original Source: UMass Boston Study Finds Black, Latino and Asian Older Adults Much More Likely to Struggle in Later Life