Despite negative events in society, Latino families have high optimism on life, health care and the future.

Polling data by W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), The Denver Post and Univision, conducted by Latino Decisions, revealed Latinos, including immigrants, are also hopeful on many issues encountered in the U.S.

Issues such as education, health care and equal opportunity ranked marginally higher on the "better" scale for Latinos. Health care received high marks, with 47 percent, as an issue that's getting better in the country during the last five years. Although 29 percent of Latinos said health care has been worse in the last five years.

On health care, Latino respondents claimed their health has been positive. Three of four Latinos said they have health insurance coverage. Eighty percent of Latinos have a health care provider that provides Spanish or translators.

"With Latino children being the fastest growing demographic in the nation, their well-being is critical to America's future," said WKKF President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. "The polling uncovers challenges faced by children and families, while identifying areas where families are succeeding."

Equal opportunity in the U.S. has also improved in the U.S., according to 40 percent of Latinos, while 23 percent believed it worsened. Education also improved among 37 percent of Latinos, although 27 percent disagreed.

The numbers began to dwindle on jobs, dignity and respect, crime and violence, affordable housing and discrimination. Latinos tied on 37 percent on whether the job market improved during the last five years, and then the numbers continued to decline. With 43 percent, Latinos said crime and violence has gotten worse in the U.S. while 26 percent said there has been improvement. Approximately 36 percent of Latinos said discrimination towards them has also gotten worse, although 22 percent said it's been better.

"Our poll of Latino families demonstrates that despite some gains towards racial equity in Latino communities, we have more work to do," WKKF Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Barbara Ferrer said. "Achieving racial healing and racial equity are key components of our mission to support children, families and communities in creating and strengthening the environment for children to succeed."

According to the polling data, "Latinos newer to the United States consistently exhibit the most optimism about economic opportunities and social progress in America. More education, income, and time in the U.S. are all associated with higher degrees of pessimism about these conditions."

The optimism was high on the economy. Undocumented immigrants showed more optimism, with 86 percent, as well as Latinos with the highest income levels -- earning over $75,000 per year -- with 81 percent.

Latinos were also found to be more reliant on themselves than reach out to others for financial assistance. Latinos said they would work an extra job or additional hours if necessary to pay for bills or other necessities, with 67 percent to 31 percent in opposition. Latinos are also willing to go into their personal savings to help pay necessities before requesting a loan from family, friends or the bank.

The economic optimism from Latinos may be high, but they expressed being vulnerable to financial troubles. More than half, or 54 percent, of Latinos indicated they could not draw from personal savings, secure a loan (53 percent) or borrow from family or friends (56 percent). To compensate with potential economic troubles, more men were willing to work an additional job or more hours than women -- 73 percent to 61 percent.

"Across demographic groups, there is a clear sense that Latinos are targets of discrimination and unfair treatment in society. The vast majority [68 percent] are concerned that law enforcement will use excessive force against Latinos," according to the survey.

While 1 percent of Latinos said there was no discrimination against them, most respondents were able to name a location where discrimination occurred. Arizona was the top answer for Latino discrimination with 21 percent. The workplace ranked second with 18 percent while a collection of other U.S. states garnered 8 percent. Five percent of Latinos said discrimination has occurred "everywhere."

The poll was conducted between Sept. 19 and Oct. 15, with over 1,000 U.S. Latino adults participating.


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