Journal Article

Economic Insecurity and Access to the Social Safety Net among Latino Farmworker Families

Yolanda C. Padilla, Jennifer L. Scott and Olivia Lopez

in Social Work

Published on behalf of National Association of Social Workers

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 157-165
Published in print April 2014 | ISSN: 0037-8046
Published online April 2014 | e-ISSN: 1545-6846 | DOI:
Economic Insecurity and Access to the Social Safety Net among Latino Farmworker Families

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Farmworkers experience pervasive economic insecurity in part because of the seasonal nature of agricultural work and limited employment protections. Yet little is known about the adequacy of the social safety net in responding to farmworker needs. Using data from the 2005–2009 National Agricultural Workers Survey (N = 10,469), the current study analyzed predictors of social welfare participation among Latinos, who represent approximately 80 percent of all farmworkers. Nearly 95 percent are immigrants, although almost half of them have lived in the United States for more than 10 years. Descriptive analyses showed that, even among farmworker households whose income fell below the poverty line or that were headed by legally documented individuals, social services use was very low. Logistic regression analyses revealed that degree of social integration influenced social welfare participation, controlling for education, poverty status, family composition, and employment characteristics. Latino farmworkers who were recent immigrants (that is, in the United States for less than five years) had significantly lower odds of access to social insurance and public assistance programs relative to their U.S.-born counterparts. Low self-reported English ability significantly decreased access to most social insurance programs but not public assistance receipt. The findings indicate the need for social workers to engage in outreach efforts and policy advocacy to improve farmworkers access to social welfare.

Keywords: farmworkers; immigration; Latino; poverty; social welfare programs

Journal Article.  4574 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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