The economic security of an aging minority population: A profile of Latino baby boomers to inform future retirees

TitleThe economic security of an aging minority population: A profile of Latino baby boomers to inform future retirees
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsGassoumis, Z
AdvisorWilber, KH
Number of Pages124
Date Published2014
UniversityUniversity of Southern California
CityLos Angeles
Thesis TypePh.D.
Accession Number1560683648
KeywordsDemographics, Income, Methodology, Net Worth and Assets, Women and Minorities

The United States is facing dramatic demographic changes due to the aging of the Baby Boom Generation and increasing diversity, including rapid growth of the Latino population. Questions have been raised regarding the economic security of the aging baby boomers' generational cohort once they retire, which are of particular relevance to minority and Latino members of the cohort. Latinos tend to have lower levels of financial security than their white, non-Latino counterparts, but there is little research that examines individuals who fall into the intersection of these two groups: the Latino baby boomers. Because Latino boomers are a largely hidden population, their economic status and prospects are difficult to estimate. The first empirical chapter (Chapter 2) looks at the characteristics of the Baby Boomer population living in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, broken down by Latino ethnicity and citizenship status. Drawing from several U.S. Census Bureau data sources, it revealed three key findings: 1) there were 80 million baby boomers in the U.S. in 2000--more than previously reported--of which 8.0 million (10%) were Latinos; 2) U.S.-born Latino boomers were more similar to non-Latino boomers in terms of demographic characteristics, whereas foreign-born citizens and non-citizens scored less well on key demographic indicators; and 3) compared to non-Latino baby boomers, U.S.-born Latino baby boomers had somewhat less favorable economic characteristics. The second empirical chapter identifies the magnitude of racial/ethnic structural disadvantage for income and wealth in the years preceding retirement for the Baby Boom Generation, then compares their structural disadvantage with that of members of the Silent Generation cohort when they were the same age. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables (age, gender, citizenship status, education, marital status, and labor force participation), the structural effects of race/ethnicity on income--using the American Community Survey--and wealth--using the Health and Retirement Study--were considerably reduced, confirming two of the chapter's four hypotheses; however, the expected reduction in structural effects from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boom Generation was seen for wealth but not for income, confirming only one of the remaining two hypotheses. This reduction of structural disparities in wealth from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boom Generation follows the expectation that these disparities would be reduced over time, which signals good news for the younger members of the Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, and future generational cohorts. But large gaps still exist between racial/ethnic groups, even after sociodemographic adjustment; future reduction in those structural inequalities can help decrease those gaps, an especially important consideration for low-income racial/ethnic minority groups. The third empirical chapter takes an initial step toward disaggregating by age the effect of naturalization on income growth. Using linear growth curve modeling on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation's 2004 panel, it attempts to replicate past findings across the entire lifespan, but fails to detect an effect of naturalization on income growth; only non-citizens had a significantly higher level of income growth during the study period than U.S.-born citizens. In subsetting the analysis for older and younger working-age groups, an effect of naturalization was not detected for either group, and the positive effect for non-citizens was seen only for the younger age group. The predictor variables on the whole had minimal relationships with slope in the model, with less than 1% of variance explained in each model. Although a stronger effect of the predictor variables, including an effect of naturalization, may have appeared were more years of data available, it was not detected over the 4-year study period. Two unexpected findings were: 1) individuals in the younger sample who had naturalized before the study had higher intercepts than U.S.-born citizens but no such difference emerged in the older sample; and 2) in a bivariate context, those who naturalized during the study represented a socioeconomic midpoint of sorts--on racial/ethnic composition, education, and income--naturalized prior to the study. In sum, these chapters shed light on the Baby Boom cohort's characteristics and dynamics in the period leading up to their retirement age. This dissertation provides insights into the characteristics, demographic history, and socioeconomic patterns of the upcoming cohort of retirees. Implications of these findings have the potential to inform and to modify practice and policy for the next cohort: Generation X. The findings underscore the importance of reducing disparities in education and, to a degree, citizenship as a mechanism for countering the persistent effects of structural inequality on income. These insights have implications for both theory and policy and lay a foundation for a wide range of future research, which is discussed in the final chapter.


Copyright - Copyright ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing 2014 Last updated - 2014-09-17 First page - n/a

Endnote Keywords


Endnote ID


Short TitleThe economic security of an aging minority population: A profile of Latino baby boomers to inform future retirees
Citation Key6306