Racial/Ethnic inequality among older workers: Focusing on whites, blacks, and latinos within the cumulative advantage/disadvantage framework

TitleRacial/Ethnic inequality among older workers: Focusing on whites, blacks, and latinos within the cumulative advantage/disadvantage framework
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsChoi, E
AdvisorCopeland, VCarr
Number of Pages203
Date Published2013
UniversityUniversity of Pittsburgh
Thesis TypePh.D.
Accession Number1512223858
KeywordsMethodology, Public Policy

As the number of older workers increases, scholars from variable fields have made an effort to understand what makes the current older generation want to remain in the labor market; however, our knowledge of older minority workers is fragmentary. The experience of older minority workers, defined as Blacks and Latinos in this study, may differ from that of their White counterparts because of persistent racial/ethnic differences among older workers, especially in four domains: 1) financial resources for retirement, 2) health, 3) career patterns, and 4) education. Existing literature has little to offer for older minority workers because of limited methodological approaches and a dearth of appropriate theories. Thus, this study aims to identify factors that explain older Americans' labor market participation after retirement age and whether there are racial/ethnic differences among those factors. It also presents fragmentary knowledge from existing studies within the framework of the cumulative advantage/disadvantage (CAD) theory. Using the 1,114 pre-retirement aged workers from the 2004 and 2008 datasets of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), probit analysis was run to estimate the analytic model. Racially separate analyses were performed to treat race as a major indicator for the outcome (workers' labor market status after age 65) and to systematically compare factors by race. The results showed that, after adjusting for covariates, factors influencing older individuals' employment after age 65 were conditioned by race. Whereas health and the meaning of work most influence Whites, financial resources (particularly home ownership) most affect Blacks, while health alone most concerns Latinos. Overall, this study suggests that access to the labor market--as opposed to personal preference, financial necessity, or job dissatisfaction-- most influences the labor market participation of minorities. These findings of this study highlight the role of race, suggesting that one universal model cannot fully explain older individuals' labor market participation among different race/ethnic groups. Furthermore, this study's inclusion of Latinos expanded the scope of the existing literature, finding that both Black and Latino workers experience a lifetime accumulation of disadvantages. However, their employment experiences differ significantly: while class differences potentially exist among Black workers, Latinos can be more disadvantaged as a whole, experiencing substantial barriers related to education level and language in the workplace. This study helps to correct theoretical limitations in studies of older workers by using the more revealing CAD framework to interpret results. Racial/ethnic inequality among older workers should be understood not as sudden occurrences in old age, but as a byproduct of the interplay between the individual's lifetime experiences in the labor market and the social structures that impose cumulative advantages/disadvantages on the individual. This study also contributes to the field of social work by stressing the importance of both financial and nonfinancial factors to better comprehend issues surrounding older workers.


Copyright - Copyright ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing 2013 Last updated - 2014-04-15 First page - n/a

Endnote Keywords

Racial and ethnic difference

Endnote ID


Short TitleRacial/Ethnic inequality among older workers: Focusing on whites, blacks, and latinos within the cumulative advantage/disadvantage framework
Citation Key6259