Employment and labor force participation tends to mirror those rates of the non-Hispanic white elder and African American elder groups. In 1990, there were 29.7% Hispanic/Latino men aged 65-69 in the work force compared to 28.3% non-Hispanic white males. Hispanic/ Latino women in this same age category participated less in the work force at 15% compared non-Hispanic white women at 16.8%. Almost 10% of Hispanic/Latino men over the age of 80 were in the labor force in 1990 compared to 9.6% of non-Hispanic white males. There were more Hispanic/Latino women over the age of 80 in the labor force (5.2%) compared to 2.9% non-Hispanic white women. Most Mexican American and Puerto Rican elders have held occupations in the skilled blue collar and unskilled and laborer positions compared to Cuban elders who have held professional and technical positions (Villa et al., 1993).
Sources of Income
Income sources for elderly Hispanic/Latinos are primarily from Social Security. In 2000 the census data revealed that:
- 76% Hispanic/Latinos primary source of income came from social security followed by
- 26% in asset income,
- 24% earnings,
- 19% pensions
- 13% from supplemental security income.
In 2019, households with families headed by a Hispanic/Latino 65 years or over had a median income of $50,553 (USDHHS, AoA, 2020). Older Hispanic/Latino men had a median income of $21,357 and older Hispanic/Latino women had a median income of $14,701. The overall poverty rate for Hispanics over 65 in 2019 was 17.1 percent, which is over twice the poverty rate for all older Americans.
It is evident that many Hispanic elders live well below the poverty level as illustrated in Figure 2. Older Hispanic/Latino non-married women tend to experience poverty more than Hispanic men at 26.6% compared to 19.6%. Poverty poses a serious threat to the quality of life older Hispanic/Latina women face and suggests they struggle economically in their old age. For many Hispanic/Latino elders, retirement may not an option. The types of occupations they have experienced have not allowed these elders to obtain sufficient retirement pensions, if any. Many (23%) do not receive Social Security benefits and thus must continue to work to supplement their incomes (Villa, et al, 1993).
According to the Social Security Administration, the average Social Security Income received by Hispanic/Latinos men was $14,579 in 2019. The amount was $11,628 for Hispanic/Latino women in 2019.
In the H-EPESE study of elderly Hispanics from the Southwest, Angel, Frisco, Angel and Chiroboga identified a relationship between financial strain and poorer self-rated health, increased probability of reported problems with physical functioning, and the ability for the elder to provide self-care (2003). The authors conclude that the subjective aspects of health are more strongly related to financial strain and the sample of older Mexican American elderly may have access to social support which has a protective factor from financial strain (Angel, et al, 2003).