Poll: High U.S. Inflation Rates Are Having a More Serious Impact on Black, Latino, and Native American Households than White Households

Respondents report barriers to affordable housing, delayed healthcare, and problems affording food.

    • August 8, 2022

Princeton, N.J.—An NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll shows that at a time when households across the U.S. widely report experiencing serious problems from inflation, people of color are substantially more likely than Whites to report they are currently having serious financial problems in this period (see Table 1). Black, Latino and Native American adults also report facing more serious issues across several areas compared to White Americans.

Notably, 58 percent of Black and Native American families reported not having enough emergency savings to cover at least one month of their expenses, compared to 53 percent of Latino adults and 36 percent of White adults. Further, 39 percent of Native American, 32 percent of Black, 30 percent of Latino and 14 percent of Asian adults reported having serious problems affording food, compared to 21 percent of White adults.

“Even though there are many programs aimed to help families with food costs, much higher rates of Black, Latino, and Native American households currently say they are facing serious problems affording food. This is likely to have major immediate and longer-term health consequences for millions of families,” said Mary Findling, Assistant Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In addition, a wider share of Black renters (16%), Native American renters (21%) and Latino renters (10%) say they have been evicted or threatened with eviction in the past year than White renters (9%, see Figure 1). Only 4 percent of Asian renters reported eviction or threats of eviction.

This poll, Personal Experiences of U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Today’s Difficult Times, was conducted May 16–June 13, 2022, among 4,192 U.S. adults. The report details findings among the five largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States: 1,216 non-Hispanic White adults; 1,103 Black, adults; 1,066 Hispanic/Latino adults; 552 Asian adults; and 180 Native American adults ages 18 and older. See the Methodology below for further details.

“The serious problem of inflation is impacting Black families more than many other Americans. Millions of households led by people of color across the nation are facing distinct, serious financial problems during this period, including many who are being threatened with eviction and face unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods, with few options to help,” said Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis Emeritus at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

While more than 6 in 10 people of all racial and ethnic groups reported a lack of affordable housing to rent or buy, the condition of the neighborhoods where they lived varied. Black, Native American, and Latino families were significantly more likely to report serious problems with air and water quality, access to good jobs, and access to parks and greenspace.

 

"These poll findings are a reminder that while everyone is impacted by today's inflation and economy, we're not all feeling the same pressures in the same ways," said Alonzo Plough, Vice President for Research and Evaluation and Chief Science Officer at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "These differences are the result of policies and practices that have created fewer opportunities in some communities and we need solutions that are designed to build a more equitable future."

 

In this period when medical care has been disrupted, nationally 19 percent of U.S. households with serious illnesses have also struggled to find timely healthcare for those illnesses. Among U.S. households where anyone has been seriously ill in the past year, 35 percent of Native American households, 24 percent of Black households, 18 percent of Latino households, 18 percent of White households, and 10 percent of Asian households say they were unable to get medical care for serious illnesses when they needed it.

In addition, across racial/ethnic groups in America, housing affordability and crime are currently viewed as a serious neighborhood problems by substantial shares of adults today. Majorities of adults across racial/ethnic groups (74% of Latinos, 65% of Asians, 65% of Whites, 61% of Blacks, and 61% of Native Americans) say lack of affordable housing to buy is a serious problem in their own neighborhoods. On crime, 40 percent of Native American adults, 35 percent of Black adults, 35 percent of Latino adults, 28 percent of White adults, and 22 percent of Asian adults say crime is currently a serious problem in their own neighborhoods.

View the complete poll findings.

Table 1. Types of Serious Financial Problems Currently Facing U.S. Adults, by Race/Ethnicity (in Percent)
Figure 1. U.S. Renters' Experiences with Eviction, by Race/Ethnicity (in Percent)

Methodology

The poll in this study is part of an on-going series of surveys developed by researchers at the Harvard Opinion Research Program (HORP) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NPR. The research team consists of the following members at each institution.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:  Robert J. Blendon, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis and Executive Director of HORP; John M. Benson, Senior Research Scientist and Managing Director of HORP; Mary G. Findling, Assistant Director of HORP; Loren Saulsberry, Assistant Professor, Health Services Research, Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago; Chelsea Whitton Pearsall, Research Coordinator of HORP.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Carolyn Miller, Senior Program Officer, Research-Evaluation-Learning; Jordan Reese, Director of Media Relations.

NPR: Andrea Kissack, Senior Supervising Editor, Science Desk; Will Stone, Editor, Science Desk; Marcia Davis, Supervising Editor of Race and Identity, National Desk. 

Interviews were conducted online and via telephone (cellphone and landline), May 16–June 13, 2022, among a nationally representative, probability-based sample of 4,192 adults age 18 or older in the U.S. Data collection was conducted in English and Spanish by SSRS (Glen Mills, PA), an independent research company. The survey included nationally representative samples of White, Black, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans.

The sample consisted of two main components: (1) An address-based sample (ABS), with respondents randomly sampled from the United States Postal Service’s Computerized Delivery Sequence (CDS) file. These sampled households were sent an invitation letter including a link to complete the survey online and a toll-free number that respondents could call to complete the survey with a telephone interviewer. All respondents were sent a reminder postcard, which also included a QR code they could scan to be linked to the survey via a smart device. Households that could be matched to telephone numbers and that had not yet completed the survey were called to attempt to complete an interview; (2) Respondents reached via the SSRS Opinion Panel and the Ipsos Knowledge Panel, two online probability-based panels that recruit respondents through address-based sampling. In order to represent hardest-to-reach populations, address-based sampling was supplemented by interviews using Advanced Cellular Frame (ACF), a random sample of cellphone numbers. A total of 3,791 respondents completed the questionnaire online and 401 by telephone.

Table, Methodology for August 2022 Personal Experiences Poll

Respondents self-reported their own race/ethnicity.

*White, Black, and Asian respondents who also identified as Latino or Hispanic were included only in the Latino sample, so those three groups are White (non-Hispanic), Black (non-Hispanic), and Asian (non-Hispanic).

**Native Americans are those who report their main racial/ethnic identity as American Indian or Alaska Native.

Possible sources of non-sampling error include non-response bias, as well as question wording and ordering effects. Non-response produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different subgroups of the population. To compensate for these known biases and for variations in probability of selection within and across households, the samples were weighted to match the distribution of the population based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 Current Population Survey (CPS). Weighting parameters included: gender, age, education level, race/ethnicity, region, and party identification.

 

About the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.

 

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

Additional Media Contact: Nicole Rura

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (617) 221-4241