Hispanic Workers and the Employment-Based Welfare State
Compared with other developed nations, federal and state governments in the United States play a relatively limited role in providing the full range of social services to citizens (Hicks 1999; Noble 1997; Weir et al. 1988). Unlike the citizens of Europe, Americans do not expect free higher education, state-mandated vacations, family allowances, or publicly funded health care. Those over the age of 65 years enjoy the protections of income support and universal health care through Social Security and Medicare, but for working-age adults no such universal programs exist. In the United States, retirement security and health insurance are primarily work-related benefits. Unfortunately, for many working Americans, and especially minority Americans, their jobs do not guarantee health-care coverage or a guaranteed retirement income. In the absence of work-related benefits, few options exist. Jobs that do not provide benefits are unlikely to pay well enough to allow an individual to save for retirement or to purchase a family health insurance plan in the private market. For low-wage workers, the vast majority of their income goes to daily consumption and the satisfaction of basic needs.