Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Racial/Ethnic Inequality among Older Workers: Focusing on Whites, Blacks, and Latinos within the Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage Framework

Choi, Eunhee (2013) Racial/Ethnic Inequality among Older Workers: Focusing on Whites, Blacks, and Latinos within the Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage Framework. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


As the number of older workers increases, scholars from variable fields have made an effort to understand what makes the current older generation want to remain in the labor market; however, our knowledge of older minority workers is fragmentary. The experience of older minority workers, defined as Blacks and Latinos in this study, may differ from that of their White counterparts because of persistent racial/ethnic differences among older workers, especially in four domains: 1) financial resources for retirement, 2) health, 3) career patterns, and 4) education. Existing literature has little to offer for older minority workers because of limited methodological approaches and a dearth of appropriate theories. Thus, this study aims to identify factors that explain older Americans’ labor market participation after retirement age and whether there are racial/ethnic differences among those factors. It also presents fragmentary knowledge from existing studies within the framework of the cumulative advantage/disadvantage (CAD) theory.

Using the 1,114 pre-retirement aged workers from the 2004 and 2008 datasets of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), probit analysis was run to estimate the analytic model. Racially separate analyses were performed to treat race as a major indicator for the outcome (workers’ labor market status after age 65) and to systematically compare factors by race.

The results showed that, after adjusting for covariates, factors influencing older individuals’ employment after age 65 were conditioned by race. Whereas health and the meaning of work most influence Whites, financial resources (particularly home ownership) most affect Blacks, while health alone most concerns Latinos. Overall, this study suggests that access to the labor market—as opposed to personal preference, financial necessity, or job dissatisfaction—most influences the labor market participation of minorities.

These findings of this study highlight the role of race, suggesting that one universal model cannot fully explain older individuals’ labor market participation among different race/ethnic groups. Furthermore, this study’s inclusion of Latinos expanded the scope of the existing literature, finding that both Black and Latino workers experience a lifetime accumulation of disadvantages. However, their employment experiences differ significantly: while class differences potentially exist among Black workers, Latinos can be more disadvantaged as a whole, experiencing substantial barriers related to education level and language in the workplace.

This study helps to correct theoretical limitations in studies of older workers by using the more revealing CAD framework to interpret results. Racial/ethnic inequality among older workers should be understood not as sudden occurrences in old age, but as a byproduct of the interplay between the individual’s lifetime experiences in the labor market and the social structures that impose cumulative advantages/disadvantages on the individual. This study also contributes to the field of social work by stressing the importance of both financial and non-financial factors to better comprehend issues surrounding older workers.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Choi, Eunheeeuc4@pitt.eduEUC4
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairTang, Fengyanfet7@pitt.eduFET7
Committee CoChairCopeland, Valire sswvcc@pitt.eduSSWVCC
Committee MemberEngel, Rayrengel@pitt.eduRENGEL
Committee MemberAlbert , StevenSMAlbert@pitt.eduSMALBERT
Date: 16 August 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 August 2013
Approval Date: 16 August 2013
Submission Date: 15 August 2013
Access Restriction: 1 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 1 year.
Number of Pages: 202
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Social Work > Social Work
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: older workers, racial inequality, labor market participation, retirement, minority, blacks, Latinos, employment
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2013 20:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:15


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item