Race and income disparities in disaster preparedness in old age.

Research paper by Katherine K Cox, BoRin B Kim

Indexed on: 07 Jul '18Published on: 07 Jul '18Published in: Journal of gerontological social work


This study investigated to what extent income status and race/ethnicity in old age interplayed with disaster preparedness. Data came from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel survey of older Americans over 51 years old. Our sample was restricted to respondents who participated in a special survey about disaster preparedness (N=1,711). Disaster preparedness was measured as a score, which includes 13 variables. Race/ethnicity was categorized by White, Black, and Hispanic. Low income was defined as below 300% of the federal poverty line. OLS regression was used to examine the main and interaction effects of race/ethnicity and lower income status on disaster preparedness scores. We found that older adults in lower income status had lower preparedness level than those in higher income (Coef. =-0.318, p<.01). Hispanics tend to be less prepared compared to White and Blacks (Coef. =-0.608, p<.001). Preparedness of Black elders was not significantly different from that of Whites. However, interestingly, Black elders in lower income status were significantly less prepared for disaster than other groups (Coef. =- 0.622, p<.05). This study identified vulnerable subgroups of older adults for disaster preparedness and suggests that preparedness programs should target minority and low income elders.