Karen Richman publishes new study on the Significance of Gender for Latino Retirement

Author: Institute for Latino Studies

Karen Richman

Karen Richman led an interdisciplinary research team’s investigation of The Significance of Gender for Latinos’ Savings for Retirement. She will be presenting study findings at Financial Security Day, a multi-disciplinary workshop sponsored by University of Notre Dame and the local United Way, which will bring national experts from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the financial wellness industry to campus on February 25. Richman, a cultural anthropologist, collaborated in the research with economist Wei Sun, political scientist Justin Sena and sociologist Sung David Chun to conduct statistical analysis of national survey data and a qualitative, case study of in 2012-2014 of Mexican immigrants and (native-born) Mexican-Americans’ in metropolitan Chicago. The project was sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education.  

The report highlights the work of Chicago area agencies including The Resurrection Project, Second Federal Savings and Casa Esperanza of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The study found that income has a greater influence than gender on Latinos’ likelihood to save for retirement. Latinas who have been in the United States for twenty years or more or were born in this country are embracing saving for retirement, but they are likely to liquidate their pensions with a lump-sum payment at the end of work, obliterating their nest egg in one fell swoop. As long as their manifold financial insecurity and their collectivist adaptations to counteract it continue, increasing enrollment in the existing, punitive structure of tax-deferred defined contribution plans is unlikely to increase their retirement security and may even undermine it. Richman and her team recommend the U.S. Treasury’s new myRA savings program as a positive step toward eliminating barriers to retirement security.