Many families experience economic stress such as job loss and salary cuts. Such stress often has negative effects on marriages, parenting, and children’s developmental outcomes. Although all ethnic groups and social classes experience economic stress at some point in their lives, minority families are especially likely to suffer such economic problems. For instance, poverty rates for African-American and Hispanic-American families are three times higher than for non-Latino white families.
Our goal in this study was to better understand the effects of economic stress on Hispanic-American families, a rapidly growing group in the United States that is expected to comprise nearly a quarter of the population by 2050.
We focused on Mexican-American families, who, as a group, are likely to be employed and married with multiple children, but who are also likely to be living below the official poverty level. For comparison purposes, we included a group of non-Hispanic white families. Our key question was: "Does economic stress have similar effects on the functioning of Mexican American and European American families and children?" To answer this question, we studied 167 Mexican-American and 111 European-American parents and their fifth-grade children. We asked parents about the amount of economic hardship they experienced during the last year, such as job loss, unstable work, and income reductions. We also explored feelings of financial pressure, for instance, whether they felt they couldn’t make ends meet, whether they had enough money to be able to afford things like health care and housing, and the extent to which they had to make economic adjustments.
Stephanie Somerville | EurekAlert!
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