Racial-Ethnic Gaps in Pandemic-Related Economic Hardship: Age Differences among Older Adults

TitleRacial-Ethnic Gaps in Pandemic-Related Economic Hardship: Age Differences among Older Adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsWiemers, EE, Lin, I-F, Strauss, AWiersma, Chin, JA, V Hotz, J, Seltzer, JA
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
KeywordsAge variation, COVID-19, Racial-ethnic disparities

Racial-ethnic disparities in experiences of economic hardship during the pandemic are well documented in the population overall and among older adults. Existing research shows that this economic hardship was much less common at older than younger ages. Little is known about the intersection of racial-ethnic and age disparities in pandemic-related hardship in later life. This research report investigated racial-ethnic gaps in economic hardship by age group among older adults.

Data were from the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) including the 2020 COVID-19 module. We estimated Heckman-corrected linear probability models to examine differences in experiences of pandemic-related economic hardship in the 2020 HRS by race-ethnicity (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, U.S.-born Hispanic, foreign-born Hispanic) across age groups (55-64, 65-74, 75+). In the multivariable analysis, we controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, participation in social programs, preexisting health conditions and behaviors, and economic resources from the 2018 HRS.

Experiences of economic hardship declined with age within each racial-ethnic group. Racial-ethnic gaps in hardship remained at older ages without any controls. However, when all controls were added, racial-ethnic gaps in economic hardship were eliminated for those ages 75+. Individual characteristics prior to the pandemic explained racial-ethnic differences in hardship for the oldest adults (75+) but did not explain gaps for those ages 55-74.

Results point to structural factors generating new racial-ethnic gaps in pandemic-related economic hardship among those approaching retirement (ages 55-74) that did not affect the oldest adults (ages 75+).

Citation Key14015
PubMed ID38835284