Abstract: Financial and Economic Profiles of Hispanic Women Participating in a Healthy Relationships Program RCT (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Financial and Economic Profiles of Hispanic Women Participating in a Healthy Relationships Program RCT

Friday, January 13, 2023
Valley of the Sun A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Roberta Leal, PhD, LMSW, Assistant Professor, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, TX
Sheara W. Jennings, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor and Humana Endowed Chair in Social Determinants of Health, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Roderick Rose, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Riya Bhatt, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Houston, Houston
Luis Torres-Hostos, PhD, Founding Dean and Professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX
Background. The Hispanic/Latinx population make up the largest U.S. minority group. Despite economic progress, they continue to disproportionately live in poverty: 15.7% of Hispanics live in poverty compared to 7.3% for Asians and non-Hispanic Whites (U.S. Census, 2020). While opening a bank account is a necessary step to building financial stability, Hispanics under-participate in formal banking with nearly two-thirds of low-income Hispanic households being unbanked or having limited access to banks (FDIC, 2017). Moreover, while Hispanic women serve a critical role in their families, they face the largest wage gap among women in the U.S., earning 55 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic White males (UNIDOS US, 2021); and their poverty rate is nearly triple that of non-Hispanic White women (Center for American Progress, 2013). Mothers’ financial status is an indicator of their children’s financial security and an important predictor of their future success. As such, it is important to understand the financial and economic profiles of Hispanic women when seeking to strengthen and improve overall outcomes for them and their families. This study explores the financial/economic profiles of Hispanic women and the impact of participation in a Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) program on indicators of banking and financial/economic stability.

Methods. Data are from a 5-year randomized control trial (RCT) conducted between 2015 and 2020 which targeted low-income individuals residing in a large, urban, southwest U.S. region for participation in a HMRF program. Analyses for this study focus on survey data from the sample subset of U.S. and Foreign-born Hispanic women who participated in the program (N=725). Treatment group participants (n=380) completed a 7-week program and control group participants (n=345) were waitlisted for 1 year with low-level case management services. We examined financial/economic profiles pre- and post- program participation, cross-tabulated the treatment and control group participants, and conducted chi-square tests.

Results. Financial/Economic profiles reveal important socioeconomic factors related to public assistance, difficulties finding or keeping a job, and banking; acculturation, educational attainment, parenting, and marriage or cohabitation. Chi-square tests revealed significant program effects in favor of the treatment group on measures of having checking (56% treated vs. 43% control for checking or 30% higher) and savings accounts (36% vs. 24% control for savings or 50% higher), meaning the proportion of participants who reported having a checking (x2=5.629; p=0.017) and/or a savings (x2=5.704; p=0.017) account was significantly higher in the treatment group.

Conclusions/Implications. Findings suggest program effects that benefit low-income Hispanic women and their families on banking, which is an important aspect of financial/economic stability. Based on the profiles of Hispanic women in this study, implications for improving the financial/economic security of Hispanic women include access to education, training, and affordable childcare; employment that pays a living wage; and legal assistance specific to documentation barriers. Financial literacy classes, offered in Spanish and focused on banking skills, are likely to prove helpful to low-income Hispanic women in navigating financial insecurity and reducing the gender wage gap.