HERITAGE HISPANIC MONTH
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. Many SDOH have a major impact o
n the health, well-being, and quality of life of Hispanic/Latino communities, such as:
- Safe housing, transportation, and neighborhoods
- Racism, discrimination, and violence
- Education, job opportunities, and income
- Language barriers and literacy skills
SDOH also contribute to wide health disparities and inequities. For example, people who don’t have access to grocery stores with healthy foods are less likely to have good nutrition, which can raise their risk of health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Use this page to learn more about the SDOH affecting Hispanic/Latino communities and to find helpful resources from OMH’s partners to share with your communities, patients, and organizations.
Visit Health People 2030 to learn more about SDOH, learn about federal efforts to address SDOH, and explore research related to SDOH.
Visit the CDC’s website to find tools for putting SDOH in action.
Economic stability refers to a person’s ability to find and maintain a steady income, as well as earn enough money to afford things that help them live a healthy lifestyle. Being a homeowner, working in a safe environment, having access to affordable childcare, and having financial savings can help increase economic stability. When a person is economically stable, they can afford steady housing, healthy food, and health care.
According to a 2020 report from the Joint Economic Committee, there are an estimated 29 million Hispanics in the U.S. workforce, making up 18 percent of all workers. The unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans is higher than overall unemployment rates but has been dropping steadily. Latinos are more likely to hold jobs in industries that have above-average risks of injury and exposure to harmful chemicals, such as construction, agriculture, and hospitality.
Hispanics in the U.S. tend to have lower-paying jobs than non-Hispanics. In 2018, the median income for Hispanic households was nearly $20,000 less than the median income for non-Hispanic white households. The pay gap is even larger for Hispanic women.
Despite lower wages and less financial capital, Hispanics are more likely than any other group to become new entrepreneurs. As of 2017, experts believe there are at least four million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., contributing over $700 billion annually to the American economy.
Want to learn more about how economic stability impact Hispanic and Latino communities? Browse a short collection of free, related resources in the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.
Education Access and Quality
Research shows that the more education a person has, the more likely they are to live a healthy lifestyle. Children are more likely to be academically successful when they have access to high-quality education and safe school environments free of violence and bullying. Individuals are more likely to have higher paying jobs if they have a high school diploma, and even more so with a college degree.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Hispanic students enrolled in schools, colleges, and universities has increased substantially between 1996 and 2016, growing from 8.8 million to 17.9 million students. This trend applies to all levels of education, ranging from nursery school to higher education institutions.
College enrollment has more than tripled for Hispanics in the United States. Compared to other racial/ethnic groups, a larger percentage of Hispanic college students (over 40 percent) attend two-year colleges rather than four-year colleges.
According to the Pew Research Center, education levels for recently arrived Latino immigrants (defined as living in the United States for five years or less) are high as well. In 2018, the percentage of recently arrived Hispanic immigrants who completed high school was 67 percent, while in 1990, this number was 38 percent.
Despite these positive trends, the percentage of young adult Hispanics who have not completed high school and are not enrolled in school is higher than non-Hispanics. Hispanics aged 25 – 34 also have the lowest percentage of graduate school enrollment compared to white, Black, and Asian Americans.
Want to learn more about how education access and quality impact Hispanic and Latino communities? Browse a short collection of free, related resources in the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.
Health Care Access and Quality
Being able to access and use high-quality health care services is a critical part of preventing disease and keeping people healthy. There are many reasons why people cannot access or use health care services: language barriers, lack of transportation, health care costs, inability to find childcare, inability to take off time from work, and discrimination when receiving health care can all factor into a person’s ability or willingness to use health care services.
Health care access and utilization vary widely in the U.S. Hispanic population. Factors include age, country of birth, English language fluency, and length of residency in the U.S. Hispanics aged 65 and older are more likely than younger Hispanics to have a primary care provider and are more likely to have seen a provider in the past 12 months.
The percentage of Hispanic Americans with health insurance has risen over the past decade. However, this group is still more likely than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S. to be uninsured.
Language barriers influence health care utilization as well. Approximately 46 percent of Hispanic American adults say they have a close family member or friend who requires interpretation services or a Spanish-speaking health care provider, and 50 percent of Hispanic Americans say it is difficult to understand the process of getting medical care and have had negative experiences receiving health care.
Want to learn more about how health care access and quality impact Hispanic and Latino communities? Browse a short collection of free, related resources in the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.
Neighborhood and Built Environment
Safe neighborhoods allow people to live healthier and happier lives. Racial and ethnic minority populations are more likely to live in areas where there is violence, water and air pollution, exposure to toxic substances, a lack of trees and green spaces, loud noise, and a lack of access to healthy foods. All these factors can directly or indirectly impact a person’s health.
A 2019 report from the Joint Economic Committee states that 94 percent of Latinos currently live in urban areas, but this is changing. States with historically low Hispanic populations, such as North and South Dakota, are experiencing fast increases in Hispanic residents.
Hispanic Americans are far more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be concerned about environmental issues. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 71 percent of Hispanic adults state climate change has affected their community, compared to 54 percent of non-Hispanic adults. This percentage is even higher for foreign-born Hispanics.
According to Yale Climate Connections, an initiative of the Yale Center for Environmental Communication, several research teams have found that Hispanics are often disproportionately affected by environmental factors. Many predominantly Latino neighborhoods have a higher risk of flooding, drought, and air pollution. These neighborhoods often have fewer green spaces, which are known to lower temperatures during extreme heat.
Want to learn more about how neighborhoods and built environments impact Hispanic and Latino communities? Browse a short collection of free, related resources in the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.
Social and Community Context
Social and community support can greatly improve a person’s health and well-being. Positive, healthy relationships and community engagement can buffer disruptive environmental factors, especially for children and young adults. Disruptive factors can include incarceration, deportation, discrimination, bullying, and violence. When these disruptive and stressful factors are present, a person’s overall stress level (often called “allostatic load”) can directly influence their mental and physical health.
Discrimination and deportation remain key sources of stress for many Hispanic Americans. A Pew Research Center survey found that 23 percent of Hispanic Americans were criticized for speaking Spanish in public, and 20 percent were called offensive names in the past year. Research also shows that over 39 percent of Hispanic Americans worry that they or an individual close to them could be deported. In 2019, 80 percent of Hispanics living in the U.S. were citizens. This is an increase from 74 percent in 2010.
According to Voto Latino, a growing number of Hispanic Americans are exercising their voting rights. Experts believe over 16 million Latinos voted in 2020, an increase of nearly 40 percent since 2016. Around 12 million Latinos are eligible to vote but are not registered.
Want to learn more about how social and community context impact Hispanic and Latino communities? Browse a short collection of free, related resources in the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.