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  • 1. Racialized Disparities Among Older Adults: Our Unfinished Work in the 21st Century john a. powell Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of Law AARP’s Diversity and Aging in the 21st Century Conference June 10, 2009 Chicago, IL
  • 2. Overview of today’s conversation
    • How older adults are situated
      • Impact of the recession
    • Responding to older adults’ situatedness
      • 3 options:
        • Colorblindness, targeted responses, targeted universalism
    • Re-thinking how structures are arranged
  • 3. Key Takeaways
    • We need to recognize how people are situated differently in society and account for the fact that older adults possess unique resources and needs.
    • We must respond to how older adults are situated in regards to structures in ways that are targeted, yet universal.
    • We need community-level responses rather than focusing on individuals.
  • 4. The Arrangement of Structures
    • How we arrange structures matters
      • The order of the structures
      • The timing of the interaction between them
      • The relationships that exist between them
    • Structures are not neutral. They unevenly distribute benefits, burdens, and racialized meaning.
      • Even if they did distribute equally, though, that would not be adequate because people are unevenly situated.
    • We must be aware of how structures are arranged in order to fully understand social phenomena.
  • 5. Example: Structural Racialization
    • Structural racialization addresses inter-institutional arrangements and interactions.
      • It refers to the ways in which the joint operation of institutions produce racialized outcomes.
    • Structural racialization analysis allows for a view of the cumulative effects of institutional arrangements.
    Fiscal Policies Housing Childcare Employment Education Health Transportation Effective Participation
  • 6. How Older Adults Are Situated
  • 7. The U.S. is a “young” population compared to the rest of the world. Sources: Carl Haub, 2006 World Population Data Sheet ; Quoted from Population Reference Bureau’s graphics bank on aging. This graphic shows the 13 “oldest” countries & the U.S.; nearly all are in Europe. The U.S. actually ranks as the 38th “oldest” country. Percent age 65 or older
  • 8. An Aging Population
    • As ‘baby boomers’ age, today's number of older adults will double over the next 30 years.
      • At that point in time:
        • About 25% of the entire US population will be over 65.
        • For the first time in U.S. history, there will be more Americans over 65 than under 18.
    • The average lifespan has increased by 30 years since 1900 (47  77)
    • By 2050, there could be one million centenarians.
    Freedman, Marc. “Making Policy for An Aging Century.” Civic Ventures. http://www.civicventures.org/publications/articles/policy_for_an_aging_century.cfm
  • 9. An Aging Population 2006 Older American Update. AgingStats.gov
  • 10. Population Age 65 & Over, by Race & Hispanic Origin: 2004 & 2050 Projection 2006 Older American Update. AgingStats.gov. Data from U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates & Projections, 2004
  • 11. Life Expectancy at Age 65 Years, by Sex and Race: 2000 - 2006 Center for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5817a7.htm
  • 12. Median Individual Income in 2007 by Race, Age Purcell, Patrick. “Income and Poverty among Older Americans in 2007. CRS Report for Congress. 3 Oct. 2008. http://aging.senate.gov/crs/pension35.pdf
  • 13. Median Household Income in 2007 by Demographic Traits of Householder Purcell, Patrick. “Income and Poverty among Older Americans in 2007. CRS Report for Congress. 3 Oct. 2008. http://aging.senate.gov/crs/pension35.pdf
  • 14. Percentage of Individuals Aged 65 & Older in Poverty in 2007 Purcell, Patrick. “Income and Poverty among Older Americans in 2007. CRS Report for Congress. 3 Oct. 2008. http://aging.senate.gov/crs/pension35.pdf
  • 15. Older Americans are Moving to the Sunbelt Marshall, Victor. “Aging in an Aging Society.” UNC Institute on Aging (2006), citing the U.S. Census Bureau
  • 16. Living Arrangements – Men 65 & Over, 2004 2006 Older American Update. AgingStats.gov
  • 17. Living Arrangements – Women 65 & Over, 2004 2006 Older American Update. AgingStats.gov Women are more likely than men to live alone – a byproduct of their longer life expectancy.
  • 18. Presence in Age-Restricted Housing
    • The 55+ housing market is likely to become more racially and ethnically diverse.
    • Of recent movers to age-qualified active adult communities:
      • 88% are white, non-Hispanic, compared to 83% of recent movers to other 55+ owner-occupied and 74% of recent movers to age-restricted rental communities.
    • The shares of minorities in the 55+ single-family housing market have been quite stable:
      • From 2001 – 2005, the shares were around 18%.
      • In 2007, they increased to 23%.
  • 19. Female Unemployment by Race, 55+ Not seasonally adjusted Urban Institute Retirement Policy Program. www.retirementpolicy.org
  • 20. Male Unemployment by Race, 55+ Not seasonally adjusted Urban Institute Retirement Policy Program. www.retirementpolicy.org
  • 21. White Men (55+) Are Less Likely to be Unemployed than Those of Other Races Johnson, Richard W. and Corina Mommaerts. “Unemployment Rate Hits All-Time High for Adults Age 65 and Older.” March 2009. Urban Institute Retirement Policy Program.www.retirementpolicy.org African American Men (55+) Unemployed: 1 in 10 Hispanic Men (55+) Unemployed: 1 in 11 White Men (55+) Unemployed: 1 in 17
  • 22. The presence of chronic diseases in adults 65+ varies considerably by race. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Merck Company Foundation. The State of Aging and Health in America 2007. Whitehouse Station, NJ: The Merck Company Foundation; 2007. p. 4. Available at www.cdc.gov/aging and www.merck.com/cr
  • 23. Age 65 or older, self-assessed health status as ‘good’ or ‘excellent,’ 2002-2004 2006 Older American Update. AgingStats.gov
  • 24. Health Insurance for Non-Institutionalized Adults 65+ (2007) Percent “ A Profile of Older Americans 2008.” Administration on Aging. http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Aging_Statistics/Profile/2008/15.aspx
  • 25. Health, Stress, and Aging
    • “ Not only does social class effect health and age-related disease, but seems to have an impact on the ageing process itself.” ~ Professor Tim Spector
    • The psychological stress of lacking control over life circumstances has a negative effect on the aging process.
    • Researchers found that the difference between “women in the three lowest social groupings, and non-manual workers - the women in the highest three classes, was equivalent to seven biological years.”
    “ Ageing ‘Linked to Social Status.’” BBC News. 19 Jul. 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5188742.stm
  • 26. Digital Divide
    • Older adults comprise a group that often lacks access to information and communication technology.
    Jones, Sydney and Susannah Fox. “Generations Online in 2009.” Pew Internet & American Life Project. Jan 2009. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Generations-Online-in-2009.aspx
  • 27. Recession’s Impacts on Older Adults
    • The recession has impacted how older adults are situated.
      • “ The stock market lost 47% of its value between September 30, 2007 and December 2, 2008, destroying $2.8 trillion in 401(k) and individual retirement accounts and intensifying pressures on seniors to work.”
    • Members of the ‘Threshold Generation’ (Americans ages 50 to 64 who are at or near the peak of their earnings potential and net worth, and who are also at the brink of retirement) have suffered the most from the recession.
    • “ Adults 65 and older -- most of whom have already retired and downsized their lifestyles -- have escaped its full fury.”
    Morin, Rich and Paul Taylor. “Different Age Groups, Different Recessions.” Pew Research Center Report 14 May 2009. and Johnson, Richard W. “How is the Recession Affecting Older Workers?” Urban Institute Fact Sheet.
  • 28. Recession: Financial Challenges
    • Older Blacks and Hispanics are faring worse than Whites
    Morin, Rich and Paul Taylor. “Different Age Groups, Different Recessions.” Pew Research Center Report 14 May 2009.
  • 29. Native American Elderly
    • “ Between 1980 and 1990, the Native American older population increased 52%, more than twice that of its white or black counterparts.
    • About 114,000 (6%) of the Native American population are over 65. Of these, about 42,000 (37%) are age 75 or over.
    • About the same proportion of Native Americans as whites continue to work after age 65 (11% versus 12%).
    • Overall, 20% of Native Americans 65 years or older live below the official poverty level.”
    Data quoted from: http://www.aarp.org/research/reference/minorities/aresearch-import-509.html#NATIVE
  • 30. Asian/Pacific Islander Elderly
    • “ Between 1980 and 1990 alone, there was a two-fold increase in the number of Asian/Pacific Islander older persons.
      • About 455,000 (6.3%) of the Asian/Pacific Islander population are age 65 or over.
        • Of those, about 154,000 (3%) are age 75 or over.
    • There are 82 men per 100 women 65 and older.
    • Asian/Pacific Islanders are slightly more likely to continue working after age 65 than whites.
    • Overall, 13% of Asian/Pacific Islander elders live below the poverty level.”
    Data quoted from: http://www.aarp.org/research/reference/minorities/aresearch-import-509.html#NATIVE
  • 31. Responding to Older Adults’ Situatedness
  • 32. Responding to Differently Situated Groups
    • Once we recognize that different communities are situated differently with reference to structures – what is our response?
      • Option 1: React in a colorblind manner
      • Option 2: Target specific groups
      • Option 3: Targeted Universalism
  • 33. Option 1: Colorblind Universal Policies
    • Seemingly universal policies are not always universal in reality.
    • Universal policies often fail to account for the fact that different communities and populations possess unique resources and needs.
    • Universal programs may not fulfill their anticipated impact due to communities being constrained under multiple layers of disadvantage.
        • Treating people who are situated differently as though they are the same can result in greater inequities.
  • 34.
  • 35.
  • 36. Option 1 Example: Social Security
    • “ Universal” policies are often based on a non-universal standard.
      • Social Security: this quintessential universal policy was based on:
        • Able-bodied white males working outside the home full-time for pay
        • A definition of work that excluded women
        • Exclusions from benefits for farm workers and domestics – jobs which many African Americans held
  • 37. Option 2: Targeted Policies
    • Conversely, targeted policies alone are not desirable because they appear to show favoritism toward a certain group, thus stigmatizing them.
      • Targeted policies may appear to favor some groups over others.
      • Targeted policies often are perceived as zero-sum.
      • Advocating for targeted policies can be construed as catering to “special interests” or advocating for “preferences.”
  • 38. Option 3: Targeted Universalism
    • Universal and targeted approaches are false choices.
    • I advocate for a third option that acknowledges how people are situated differently while also respecting our linked fates.
    • This approach supports the needs of the particular while reminding us that we are all part of the same social fabric.
      • Universal, yet captures how people are differently situated
      • Inclusive, yet targets those who are most marginalized
  • 39. What is Targeted Universalism?
    • Targeting within universalism means identifying a problem that afflicts marginalized communities, proposing a solution, and then broadening its scope to cover as many people as possible.
    • Targeted universalism recognizes disparities and the importance of eradicating them, while acknowledging their presence within a larger inequitable, institutional framework.
  • 40. Our Linked Fates
    • Targeted universalism recognizes that problems faced by particular segments of American society are not isolated circumstances but problems that could spill over into the lives of everyone.
      • Example: The subprime credit crisis was not isolated to only poor, urban communities; it has spread beyond these areas and has been felt throughout our global economy.
  • 41. Targeted Universalism
    • Targeted universalism is a common framework through which to pursue justice.
      • A model which recognizes our linked fate
      • A model where we all grow together
      • A model where we embrace collective solutions
  • 42. A Community-Level Response
    • Often the tendency is to focus on individuals.
      • The concept of diversity does not address people being differently situated in relation to structures.
    • Instead, we need to seek a community-level response.
  • 43. Re-thinking How Structures Are Arranged
    • We need to apply a targeted universalism paradigm to highlight the needs of older adults, and older marginalized adults.
    • We need to re-think how structures in our society are arranged.
    “ Race has been an important factor in building, sustaining, and shifting the social and political structures and organizational arrangements that control the distribution of opportunity and resources across all populations.” Talking About Race Resource Notebook, Kirwan Institute.
  • 44. Questions or Comments? For More Information, Visit Us Online: www.KirwanInstitute.org 42