MINORITY SENIORS' PLIGHT
Waltham, MA—Millions of African-American and Latino seniors are living on the edge of
financial collapse, according to a new report, Severe Financial Insecurity among African
American and Latino Seniors. Released today by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy
(IASP) at Brandeis University and the public policy organization, Demos, the report finds that
African American and Latino seniors face widespread financial insecurity during retirement, a
trend accelerated by the current economic crisis. According to the study, 9 in 10 senior
households of color lack sufficient resources for long-term economic security.
Painting a daunting picture, these findings are a result of analysis utilizing the Senior Financial
Stability Index (SFSI), a tool developed by IASP and Demos to assess the long-term economic
security of seniors. A combination of inadequate pensions and savings, high housing costs,
accelerating health expenses, and other trends that affect seniors, will likely get worse, unless
policies are enacted to address them.
“The current economic crisis will compound economic vulnerabilities that have been building for
years unless policies are developed to reverse these trends,” said Tatjana Meschede, lead author
of the report released today.
Particular vulnerabilities identified in the report include:
• More than three–fourths of senior households of color do not have adequate financial resources
from savings, Social Security, or pension income to cover essential expenses for their expected
• Out-of-pocket health care expenses are burdensome for 34 percent of African American and 39
percent of Latino seniors.
• High housing expenses put the budgets of 6 out of 10 senior households of color at risk.
“These data show that millions of African American and Latino seniors are living on the edge of
financial collapse, unable to rely on assets, income, or other pillars of financial stability. Their
circumstances are only made worse by the recent economic downturn, which has been
characterized by dramatic losses in assets and housing values,” said Thomas Shapiro, co-author
of the report and Director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy.
Policies must not only strengthen the existing safety-nets and promote asset building
opportunities for vulnerable seniors, they also must protect younger families to help them enter
retirement on a stronger economic footing. “Future retirees will be worse off unless we attend to
policies that grow their resources for the future, and combat the rising costs of essential expenses
for seniors,” said Jennifer Wheary, report co-author and a Senior Fellow at Demos.
For more information and to download the report, visit www.iasp.brandeis.edu or