The Hispanic population aged sixty-five and over – the most socioeconomically disadvantaged subset of America's elderly – is projected to quintuple between 2012 and 2050. While current longevity patterns for Hispanics relative to whites are favorable, old-age functioning and disability patterns for Hispanics are unfavorable and have serious implications for caregivers; families; and local, state, and federal governments. Troubling signs for the future Hispanic population (which are shared to varying degrees with other vulnerable groups) include the unresolved legal status of unauthorized immigrants, continued low levels of insurance coverage even after health care reform, some unfavorable trends in health behaviors, and continued disadvantages in educational attainment and income relative to whites. We urge policy-makers to deal with these potentially problematic health and well-being issues. Not doing so could have detrimental consequences for the future of the Hispanic population as well as other at-risk groups and, by extension, the U.S. elderly population as a whole.
Authors' Note: Funding was provided by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on an Aging Society (John W. Rowe, Chair), and by infrastructural research support (5 R24 HD042849) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.