Cumulative disparities in the dynamics of working poverty for later-career U.S. workers (2002-2012)

TitleCumulative disparities in the dynamics of working poverty for later-career U.S. workers (2002-2012)
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsHale, JMhairi, Dudel, C, Lorenti, A
Series TitleSocArXiv Papers
InstitutionCornell University
CityIthaca, NY
KeywordsAging, cumulative disadvantage, Great Recession, life course, Poverty, Race/ethnicity, Work

Many more Americans experience working poverty than unemployed poverty, a situation which was only exacerbated by the Great Recession. The consequences of working poverty for later-career workers – who should be in their highest-earning ages – are particularly dire. We expect that later-career workers are especially vulnerable in terms of risk and duration of working poverty and that those who have accumulated disadvantages over their life courses, in terms of the intersecting dimensions of race/ethnicity, gender, early-life socioeconomic status, and educational attainment, will suffer disproportionately. We use incidence-based Markov chain multistate models to analyze the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, which is representative of the U.S. population aged 50 and older. We find that Black women and men, Latinx, those who experienced more earlylife disadvantages, and people with lower education have higher risk and longer durations in working poverty over the period 2002-2012. Our findings also suggest that when confronted with economic hardship – the Great Recession – later-career workers who originate in lower socioeconomic statuses, especially Blacks and Latinx, are in more precarious economic positions. Important from a policy perspective, educational attainment only partially mediates the association between race/ethnicity and working poverty; disparities persist.

Citation Key10906