Report: Race, Ethnicity Have Bearing on Retirement Security

The earnings and wealth disparities between whites and minorities in the United States is highly pronounced, and proceeds through to general retirement preparedness, according to a new research brief released by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Authored by three in-house researchers at Boston College, the report details 2016 statistics which show that in that year, the share of whites at financial risk in retirement was 48 percent versus 54 percent for blacks and 61 percent for Hispanics. This is a smaller figure than the earnings and wealth disparities, but still illustrates a noticeable difference.

Still, the researchers conclude based on this data that the retirement gap is smaller because, “minority households have a lower pre-retirement standard of living to maintain” as they transition out of work.


From 2007-2016, retirement risk for whites, blacks and Hispanics all increased. While the gap between whites and blacks narrowed, the gap for Hispanics grew for a couple of notable factors: first, the Boston College researchers detail that “a sharp decline in earnings among low-income blacks was buffered by Social Security.”

Still, Hispanics specifically “were hit much harder than either whites or blacks by the bursting of the housing bubble,” they conclude in a brief of key findings extending from the report.

The BCCRR has made the full brief available, which includes complete substantiation of its findings.

Written by Chris Clow

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  • The article is not research but rather as its opening states, a brief. Whether it is full or not is up to the standards of the reader.

    The arguments used in the brief are established (not substantiated) in the work of others which may or may not be valid (while the trust is clear, the validation of the information is not). While using the work of others is expedient, doing so without validation does not address the bias of those doing the research or those who simply summarize it. Yet referencing the source of data does allow the reader to validate the data used. Yet nowhere does even RMD which summarizes the BCCRR summary indicate it validate anyone’s assumptions, arguments, or conclusions.

    There are some known facts that help explain retirement income risk differences between these three distinct racial groups. If Social Security benefits award lower wages earned more than higher and the sole income source for a large segment of ALL US retirees is Social Security is it any surprise that the retirement income risk of blacks is not much different than for whites? If a disproportionate percentage of Hispanics are employed in the lowest paid jobs in the US is it any surprise that of the three racial groups, Hispanics are the most at risk when it comes to retirement income?

    As to the values of homes owned by the three groups why is it strange that Hispanics fared worse than the other two when it came to the 2008 mortgage burst and resulting housing price bust?

    What is RMD trying to encourage us to do? I hope it is not trying to provide us with racially driven data by which to intentionally or subliminally market!

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