For Latinx Immigrants, Work Is a Big Health Factor


Work is an important part of many people’s lives. For some, it’s the source of their identity and, for many, it determines their very survival. 

A new study from researchers with the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy looks at the value of work among Latinx immigrants and its impact as a social determinant of health. The study is published in Qualitative Health Research.  

“Despite our focus as researchers on the hazards of low-wage work, we found that Latinx immigrant workers were intent on describing the meaning and value of work in their lives, alongside the risks,” said Queens College and CUNY SPH researcher Isabel Cuervo, lead author of the study. 

“Their voicing of the importance of this concept, across two distinct studies, required that we seek to better understand the role that the value of work plays in how low-wage Latinx workers navigate the risks and rewards of their jobs.”

This study was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic began. And the health crisis has only exacerbated the risks that marginalized workers face. 

The researchers looked at data from two focus group studies of Latinx immigrant workers in low-wage jobs to get a sense of how they view the value of work.

They found that the value of work among the group was linked to pride. Some workers were more willing to work in hazardous conditions for having a job. However, many took pride in performing their duties well. This, the researchers said, could lead workers “to actively change conditions for themselves and others.”


Beyond SUM

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Isabel Cuervo (Senior Research Associate, Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment) | Profile 1
Emma K. Tsui (Associate Professor, Community Health and Social Sciences) | Profile 1
Sherry Baron (Professor, Urban Studies) | Profile 1