Community >> Discrimination

Discrimination: Summary & Data Highlights

45% of King County Hispanics reported experiencing discrimination in 2011, compared to 27% of non-Hispanics.

Unfair treatment based on gender, age, race or color, ethnic background, language, social class or socioeconomic position, sexual orientation, religion, or disability are examples of discrimination, which can impact health, employment, and life satisfaction. 

In 2004, 2007, and 2011, King County adults were asked about whether, in 12 specific settings, they had “experienced discrimination, been prevented from doing something, or been hassled or made to feel inferior” during the past year. In 2011, 27% of adults reported that they experienced some type of discrimination.

Ethnicity, race, genderincome, health, employment status, and veteran status mattered. Experiencing discrimination in the past year was more common among …

  • … Hispanics, compared to non-Hispanics.
  • … people of color, compared to whites.
  • … women, compared to men.
  • … adults with household income below $35,000, compared to those with income at or above $75,000.
  • … adults in fair or poor health, compared to those in excellent, very good, or good health.
  • … unemployed adults, compared to those who were employed or not in the labor force (homemakers, students, and retirees).
  • … non-veterans, compared to veterans.

Place mattered.

  • 33% of Seattle residents reported experiencing discrimination, compared to 22% in East Region. This difference was statistically significant; other regional differences were not.
  • The more socioeconomically and racially diverse areas of Seattle had higher rates of reported discrimination in 2011, although differences among areas were too small to be statistically significant.

For King County overall, reported discrimination did not change between 2004 and 2011. 

  • In North Region, however, reports of discrimination increased significantly between 2004 and 2011.
  • 4 King County areas showed double-digit changes in reported discrimination – decreases in White Center/Boulevard Park, Renton, and West Seattle/Delridge; increase in Capitol Hill/Eastlake.  None of these changes were statistically significant, but they are worth noting.

Age mattered.

  • Of King County adults reporting experiences of discrimination, 3 in 10 said they were victims of age discrimination.
  • Respondents age 65 years and older were less likely than younger adults to report discrimination and unfair treatment.  This may be because older adults are less likely to attend school, be looking for jobs and housing, working, or going to school, so they may have fewer experiences of discrimination in these settings.

Discrimination did not differ by country of birth or primary language. Experiencing discrimination in the past year was equally likely among …

  • … adults born in the U.S. and those born outside the U.S.
  • … adults who did and did not speak English as their primary language.

Public settings (10%) and work settings (10%) were the most common places where acts of discrimination occurred in 2011.

  • 6% of respondents reported discrimination in getting a job.
  • Reported discrimination in public settings declined significantly in 2011, compared to 2007.

The most-commonly reported motivations for discrimination were age, race or color, gender, and social class, in that order.

"At first it was difficult for me to take her to that school because the moms would discriminate because here I am, young, and Latin and then they see my daughter and they’re like, wait a minute, “How do you afford this school?” … And there’s been some comments … about things that had nothing to do with her learning, it was more of her features, or like her hair, like random comments that were made by one of her teachers."
Mother of toddler in 2-parent family (mother Latina, father African American) living in rented home in Seattle.

"I always felt going in there [WIC clinic], that my parenting and the way that I raised my children was very ridiculed…. The constantly weighing and measuring my children to make sure that I’m feeding them … It made me feel like, just because I need help, financially, I’m not… I’m not trusted to be a good parent."
Mother of 2 in 2-parent family living in rented house in North King County.