Although most Americans have struggled through the economic downturn, the burdens appear to be especially hard on Hispanics.
According to a study of Hispanic Baby Boomers by Rebecca Perron for the AARP, Hispanic adults ages 45-plus have been disproportionately negatively affected by the recession within the past year relative to the general population in the same age group. Furthermore, Hispanic Boomers are being impacted harder by the recession than older members (65-plus) of the Hispanic population.
These findings indicate the strains being placed on the “sandwich generation,” or Boomers that are caring for their own children and their parents.
Within the Hispanic population, Boomers are more likely than their older counterparts to be responsible for the care of a parent (24% versus 4%), a spouse (45% versus 33%), a minor child (37% versus 12%), and an adult child (31% versus 7%). Meanwhile, 21% of Hispanic Boomers had a child move in with them for financial reasons, while 9% had a parent move in with them for the same reasons.
Other findings from the AARP study: Job losses in the last year for Hispanics was double that of the general population (21% versus 10%); only 33% of respondents had either a 401(k) 403(b) or IRA. Among those who had a retirement account, 28% said that they prematurely withdrew funds from retirement accounts (versus 19% of the general population) and 45% said they stopped contributing to these accounts (versus 31%).
Finally, about 35% of Hispanic Boomers had cut back on medication in the past year, compared to only 15% of the general population.
This last piece of data is particularly distressing, said Mary Liz Burns, a senior manager of media relations and economic security for the AARP.
“Our health care system is built around preventive care and if they have stopped taking their medication that could have detrimental consequences for them down the road," she said.
Hispanic boomers are feeling the burden of the recession even when it comes to very basic services. Approximately 56% had problems paying for gas (versus 50% for the general population), food and utilities (43% versus 23%), and the rent or mortgage (33% versus 15%).
This has caused them to get less sleep due to stress and worry (60% versus 41% of the general population).
“The strain is so great that many times there is a breaking point,” Burns said.
She urged that all Americans, not just Hispanics, take a look at their current financial situation, especially after the recession. There is often a disconnect, Burns said, between the amount of money that people have and what they need for retirement.
“One of the last taboos in families is their finances,” she said. “People don’t want to talk about how much money they are making or how much money they need to survive on, or how they have been hurt by the recession.”
One positive development in the wake of the recession is that Hispanic boomers are taking action to improve their savings. About 69% have reduced spending on entertainment and 49% are postponing travel plans.