WKKF State of the Latino Family Survey: Optimism and Obstacles

Earlier this week the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) released results from The State of the Latino Family national survey. The expansive study, conducted by Latino Decisions, included interviews with 1,000 Latino adults and addressed important topics including education, health care, economic conditions, and discrimination. [Topline Results HERE ]

Despite serious concerns about economic stability and discrimination, Latinos remain optimistic and hopeful about the future. An overwhelming 73% are optimistic about their finances and opportunities that lie ahead. At the same time, 49% fear losing their jobs within the next year, and 46% believe the country is on the wrong track. The WKKF study explores the underpinnings of these sentiments and how they may vary across the diverse Latino community.

Latinos newer to the United States exhibit much less pessimism about economic opportunities, the quality of public schools, and social progress in America relative to those who have been in the U.S. for a generation or more (an example of this trend is illustrated in Figure 1).

WKKF.LD Figure 1

These outcomes are consistent with academic research that finds experience with mainstream American culture is associated with increased cynicism among Latino immigrants.

Precarious economic conditions are exposed when the discussion turns to viable options should hard times hit (Figure 2). Two-thirds of all Latinos indicate they would take on more work to compensate for income gaps to meet basic needs. Other options ̶ like drawing from personal savings or borrowing from financial institutions, friends or family ̶ are out of reach for many, if not most Latinos.

WKKF.LD Figure 2

Women are particularly vulnerable to economic downturns; significantly fewer Latinas could rely on savings, borrow from family or friends, or take on another job compared to their male counterparts.

Despite the fact that Latinos have favorable opinions about public institutions like schools (66% report their community schools do a good job) and local law enforcement (84% believe police are indeed there to protect them and their families), there is a clear sense that Latinos are targets of discrimination and unfair treatment in society.

WKKF.LD Figure 3

The vast majority (68%) worry that law enforcement will use excessive force against Latinos, and 73% believe there has not been any improvement in reducing anti-Latino and anti-immigrant discrimination over the last five years. When asked (in an open-ended format) where Latinos encounter discrimination most, a striking 21% answered “Arizona”, and 18% said the workplace. Only 1% of all respondents said there is no discrimination.

Throughout the survey, Latinos also articulated solutions to ameliorate the obstacles identified in the study. There is little support for the notion that ignoring barriers and merely doing one’s best, playing by the rules, is a strategy for Latino advancement. Rather, two-thirds of Latinos believe the Latino community will have better opportunities if barriers to education and the workplace are broken down and Latino are encouraged, and welcome to participate in all aspects of American life.

For more information about the study:

The State of the Latino Family 2014 Survey is a component of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) America Healing effort to promote racial healing and equity. The initiative includes a series of quantitative studies of largest racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States. The survey research is built upon the premise that distinctive group perspectives and experiences merit singular, nuanced attention.

About the Survey: Between September 19th and October 15, 2014 Latino Decisions interviewed one thousand Latino adults living in the United States. All surveys were completed via live person-to-person telephone calls including both mobile numbers and landlines. Phone numbers were randomly selected from a Latino probability sample. Interviewers were fully bilingual, and conducted surveys in English or Spanish, according to the respondent’s choice. The survey carries a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.








By on 11/2014


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