Demographic and Health Characteristics of Older Latino Birth Cohorts in the Health and Retirement Study

Catherine Garcia, Marc Garcia, Jennifer Ailshire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives
Latinos are the fastest aging racial/ethnic minority group in the United States. One limitation to understanding the diverse experiences of older Latinos is the lack of nationally representative data necessary to examine factors contributing to changes in population-level health over time. This is needed to provide a more comprehensive picture of the demographic characteristics that influence the health and well-being of older Latinos.

Methods
We utilized the steady-state design of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) from 1992 to 2016 to examine the demographic and health characteristics of five entry birth cohorts of older Latinos aged 51–56 years (n = 2,882). Adjusted Wald tests were used to assess statistically significant differences in demographic and health characteristics across the HRS birth cohorts.

Results
Cross-cohort comparisons of demographic and health characteristics of older Latinos indicate significant change over time, with later-born HRS birth cohorts less likely to identify as Mexican-origin, more likely to identify as a racial “other,” and more likely to be foreign-born. In addition, we find that later-born cohorts are more educated and exhibit a higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

Discussion
Increasing growth and diversity among the older U.S. Latino population make it imperative that researchers document changes in the demographic composition and health characteristics of this population as it will have implications for researchers, policymakers, health care professionals, and others seeking to anticipate the needs of this rapidly aging population.

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