Poll of Latino families finds optimism, despite many obstacles
GritoBlast! — In partnership with Univision and The Denver Post, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) released a national survey of 1,000 Latino adults that relates the challenges and successes their families experience living in the United States. Latinos, ranging from new immigrants to long-time U.S. citizens, are keenly aware of discrimination and inequities, but remain optimistic about the future, particularly their economic conditions, personal health status, and the quality of public education for their children.
The poll, conducted between Sept. 19 and Oct. 15, 2014, is the second public opinion poll by WKKF to learn more about the impact a sluggish economy, public policy initiatives, and crime and violence are having on the quality of life for families of color in communities across the United States. Latino Decisions conducted the recent Latino poll in both English and Spanish with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
“The premise for these surveys is rooted in the belief that the distinctive perspectives and experiences of America’s largest racial and ethnic minority groups merit singular, nuanced attention,” said WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. “With Latino children being the fastest growing demographic in the nation, their well-being is critical to America’s future. The polling uncovers challenges faced by children and families, while identifying areas where families are succeeding.”
The survey represents the views of every Latino in the U.S., from undocumented immigrants to those who migrated generations ago, on a variety of issues and circumstances. “We will use these findings to better address the obstacles confronting Latino families,” said Ms. Tabron, “so that we can ultimately help create better environments where all children can thrive. We hope the polling data is used to intensify efforts by the public, private and nonprofit sectors to address root causes of the education, health, housing, and wealth inequities for people of color, especially children. This includes confronting racial biases, conscious and unconscious, that impact their families and communities.”
Key findings in the poll include:
- While optimism is seen throughout the survey, there are important, often counterintuitive, differences in demographic groups underscoring the complexity of the Latino experience in the U.S. Immigrants are especially hopeful about the opportunities in their new country on virtually all issues examined, while U.S.-born Latinos, and those with more education and higher incomes, express more skepticism and disappointment with persistent inequality, or view opportunities as diminishing.
- Latinos cite a number of conditions that pose limits to socioeconomic advancement. Jobs and economic concerns are consistently cited as the issues that concern them most. Immigration and crime were the second and third most pressing issues. Interestingly, the two groups most optimistic about their financial futures are undocumented immigrants (86 percent) and those at the highest income range (81 percent of those earning over $75,000 annually).
- There is concern about unequal treatment by local police, border patrol, and other law enforcement. Sixty-eight percent worry authorities will use excessive force against Latinos; only 26 percent believe they treat Latinos fairly most of the time; 18 percent have Latino friends or family who were victims of police brutality; and 59 percent said there are things they would change about their local police.
- Latino women are particularly vulnerable to economic troubles. If faced with income losses, more than half could not draw from personal savings (54 percent); secure a loan from a bank (53 percent), nor from family or friends (56 percent). Among men, 73 percent could take on another job or more work hours, but significantly fewer Latinas (61 percent) could do the same. Parents with young children are also at higher-than-average risk: Only 43 percent have personal savings, 49 percent indicate childcare makes their work situation difficult, and 58 percent fear losing their jobs in the next year.
Through the poll series and work with grantees, WKKF is addressing gaps in health, educational achievements and economic security presently limiting opportunities for children.
“Our poll of Latino families demonstrates that despite some gains towards racial equity in Latino communities, we have more work to do,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, chief strategy officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Achieving racial healing and racial equity are key components of our mission to support children, families and communities in creating and strengthening the environment for children to succeed.”