For Aging Immigrants, Work Continues Well Into the Retirement Years

July 9, 2015 by No Comments


When most people reach their 60s, they have a long, relaxing retirement to look forward to, with much of their income provided by Social Security.

However, for the majority of older female immigrants, those Social Security benefits don’t exist. As a result, their retirement years are spent working as caretakers or working low-wage jobs under the table, a new study has found.

“These women are an invisible population,” says Ana Oliveira, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, an organization that works to improve the financial well-being of women and girls and the group that conducted the study.

In New York City, where 40% of seniors are non-white and 46% were born abroad, this “invisible population” is most evident. Lacking any kind of retirement income or savings, older immigrant women are largely left to perform traditional women’s work: caring for children, the elderly or disabled persons.

These older immigrants face housing and income inequalities, as well. According to the 2010 Census, one in four grandparent caregivers lived in overcrowded conditions, with more than one in four spending half their income on rent alone.

Such inequalities for housing opportunities extend to younger generations, as well. While 53% of home buyers want the typical two-car-garage home with a white picket fence, Hispanic home buyers often need to earn much more than their white counterparts to be able to afford this type of home.

According to recent research from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, Hispanic families are less likely to live in affluent neighborhoods than white families of the same income level. This is a stark indication of the barriers to upward mobility that many Hispanic households face today.

The Stanford researchers found that Hispanic households with an annual income of $50,000 will, on average, live in a neighborhood where the median income is around $43,000. Meanwhile, white households with the same exact annual income will live in neighborhoods with a median income of $53,000.

This discrepancy creates what the researchers call a double disadvantage for children in Hispanic households. In addition to growing up in a lower-income family, these children live in neighborhoods that are less likely to have social support or quality school systems.

With inequalities existing from childhood to late adulthood, it can be difficult for today’s Hispanic population to move upward through society — but it’s not impossible.

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