Poll: Third of Latinos discriminated against when looking for work, housing

BOSTON — A new study finds that a sizable number of Latinos experience rampant discrimination in their everyday lives.

Earlier this year, researchers at Harvard surveyed a representative sample of nearly 3,500 adults, aged 18 and older, from a variety of racial and demographic backgrounds.

Latino woman celebrates graduating
A new study finds that about a third of Latinos, particularly those who have college degrees, face discrimination when looking for work or housing. (Photo by Juan Ramos on Unsplash)

In examining individuals of Hispanic descent, one of their more substantial findings was that over three in ten Latinos had reported being discriminated against when applying for jobs (33 percent), seeking a promotion (32 percent), or trying to find a residence (31 percent).

The failings of the justice system were only slightly less pronounced, with 27 percent of Latinos saying that they or a family member had been stopped by police due to their race, and 20 percent indicating that they or their kin had been treated unfairly by the courts.

Latinos with a college degree were nearly twice as likely to report unfair treatment by law enforcement, the researchers found.

Being a resident or citizen of the United States also doubled one’s likelihood of reporting abuse.

Thirty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents indicated having had ethnic slurs directed toward them, while a slightly smaller percentage (33%) said they had been subjected to offensive or insensitive comments as it pertained to their race.

Around one-fifth of Latinos said that they or a family member had been threatened with violence due to their background.

Interestingly, racial prejudice was reported by a substantially higher proportion of Latinos with a Bachelor’s degree (54 percent), than those who held a high school diploma or less.

A full 20 percent of Latinos said that they had been discriminated against when seeking health services, while 17 percent abstained from seeking care in the first place due to fear of discrimination.

“Currently, there has been little media attention on issues directly affecting Latinos’ lives, particularly with regard to their jobs and housing,” says study co-director Robert Blendon, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health, in a news release. “What is also lost is the considerable variation we see within the Latino community. For instance, Latinos with a college degree report more experiences of discrimination, including racial slurs and offensive comments and being unfairly treated by the police.”

Overall, 78 percent of Latino respondents said they believed that their race was discriminated against in America, with nearly half saying that the issue was mostly propelled by the beliefs and actions of individuals.

Still, 37 percent expressed their belief that systemic discrimination in government policies was the bigger culprit, regardless of whether individuals also contributed to the situation.

Harvard’s poll was conducted from late January to early April over cell and landlines.

The researchers plan to eventually release additional findings on other demographics surveyed.