Hispanic/Latinx Health Disparities

People of Latin American descent (Latinx) are Missouri’s third-largest ethnic or racial group. Right now, the U.S. Census shows the Latinx community is small. The Census estimates 263,909 people in the Latinx community live in Missouri, but that number is increasing. In 2010, Latinx made up 3.5% of Missouri’s population, compared to an estimated 4.3% in 2019. At the time of publishing for this report, there are no estimates for life expectancy for the Latinx community in Missouri. However, nationally Latinx life expectancy outpaces many other groups at 81.8 years.

The higher life expectancy for Latinx in the U.S. is known as the Hispanic Paradox. Latinx wage earners, on average, earn 80 cents to every dollar earned by white Missourians. Groups of lower socioeconomic status tend to have worse health outcomes and lower life expectancy than groups of higher socioeconomic status. There is some evidence Latinx health statistics are under-reported. Latinx communities are less likely to visit emergency rooms for injury and other health problems.

The Latin Paradox coupled with the small proportion of Missouri’s total population make it impossible to calculate meaningful rates for many health indicators. (Coleman, Health Equity Series: Hispanic Health Disparities in Missouri, 2013) Difficulty calculating health challenges are compounded by the many challenges facing the Latinx community. The U.S. Census estimates 27 percent of the U.S. born Latinx community in Missouri speaks English less than “very well.” If you factor in the foreign-born population in the Latinx Community, the percentage of people who speak English less than “very well” grows to 62 percent according to the U.S. Census. The inability to speak English at a high level affects a person’s ability to understand health professionals and negatively affects health outcomes.

Maternal and child health disparities are a big concern for the Latinx community. Latinx mothers are more than two times as likely as white mothers to go through pregnancy without adequate prenatal care. (Coleman, Health Equity Series: Hispanic Health Disparities in Missouri, 2013) Latinx moms are also less likely to have the support they need with a brand-new baby. Moms in the Latinx community are 50% more likely to be unmarried during childbirth, and 50% more likely to be on Medicaid, and more than three times more likely to have less than a high school education than white moms. As a Latinx babies are 10% more likely to be born prematurely,  

The top five causes of death for Latinx Missourians are non-communicable diseases; heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, and diabetes. It’s worth noting death rates for heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury are similar for Latinx and white Missourians, though this could be due to underreporting of deaths in the Latinx community. Latinx are nearly twice as likely to die from diabetes as white Missourians and 18 percent more likely to die from stroke.

Transmitted diseases do not factor in highly into official death rates of Latinx, but it is worth noting again cases may be under reported and one disease in particular highlights a health gap for Hispanics. Latinx Missourians are more than 3.5 times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than white Missourians.

Violent death is also a significant factor in Latinx communities in Missouri. Latinx are 3.7 times more likely to die from violence than white Missourians.