EMF21-02: The Role of Health Insurance in the Latinx-White Wealth Gap in the United States



The wealth gap between Latinx individuals and non-Latinx, white individuals is striking. Lack of health insurance coverage as well as health emergencies may negatively influence a household’s savings and financial security. Given that the Latinx population have relatively high rates of being uninsured, lower levels of wealth, and a high chronic health burden, this project contributes to the sociological knowledge related to factors that influence inequality in savings and retirement. Research on whether Latinx individuals who have been previously uninsured are more likely to have lower wealth during pre-retirement ages and rely on programs such as Social Security Income (SSI) is sparse. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation, this project will address the following research questions: 1) To what extent do un-insurance and hospitalizations account for the savings/wealth gap between Latinx and non-Latinx white individuals? 2) To what extent do un-insurance and hospitalizations account for the Latinx-white savings/wealth gap among individuals close to retirement age (e.g., ages 50-62)? 3) Are older individuals who have had unstable insurance and/or hospitalizations in the years directly before their retirement have a higher probability of applying for Social Security Income (SSI) when they are at or past retirement age?

Project Year