Commentary

Millinnial Hispanics

Part of a Pew Research Center series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation, reports that Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group in the United States. One- in-five schoolchildren is Hispanic. One-in-four newborns is Hispanic.

Never before in this country's history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the youngest Americans. This report takes an in-depth look at Hispanics who are ages 16 to 25, a phase of life when young people make choices that, for better and worse, set their path to adulthood.

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Young Latinos are satisfied with their lives, optimistic about their futures and place a high value on education, hard work and career success. Yet they are much more likely than other American youths to drop out of school and to become teenage parents. They are more likely than white and Asian youths to live in poverty. And they have high levels of exposure to gangs.

Native-born Latino youths are about twice as likely as the foreign born to have ties to a gang or to have gotten into a fight or carried a weapon in the past year. They are also more likely to be in prison.

The report explores the attitudes, values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force outcomes of these young Latinos. These are attitudes and behaviors that, through history, have often been associated with the immigrant experience. But most Latino youths are not immigrants.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center's National Survey of Latinos, more than half of Latinos ages 16 to 25 identify themselves first by their family's country of origin, be it Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republican, El Salvador or any of more than a dozen other Spanish-speaking countries. An additional 20% generally use the terms "Hispanic" or "Latino" first when describing themselves. Only about one-in-four (24%) generally use the term "American" first.

Among the U.S.-born children of immigrants, "American" is somewhat more commonly used as a primary term of self-identification. Even so, just 33% of these young second generation Latinos use American first, while 21% refer to themselves first by the terms Hispanic or Latino, and the plurality, 41%, refer to themselves first by the country their parents left in order to settle and raise their children in this country.

Only in the third and higher generations do a majority of Hispanic youths use "American" as their first term of self-description.

Term Latino Youths Use to Describe Themselves

 

Description of Country of Origin

 

Hispanic

Latino

American

All Latino youths

52%

20

24

Generation

 

 

 

   First

72

22

3

   Second

41

21

33

   Third & higher

32

15

50

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, December 2009 (Youth refers to 16-25 year olds. First generation refers to person born outside the US; second generation refers to persons born in the US with at least one first generation parent; third and higher refers to persons born in the US with both parents born in the US.)

 

Young Latinos Experience by Generation (%)

 

% of Latinos

Mothers at age 18 & 19

 

   First generation

26%

   Second generation

16

   Third & higher generations

21

High school dropout rate of 16-24 yr olds

 

   First generation

33%

   Second generation

9

   Third & higher generations

12

Source: PEW Hispanic Center, December 2009

 

Living in Poverty (% of  category)

   Hispanics

23%

   Blacks

28

   Whites

13

   Asians

18

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, December 2009 (Poverty rate is estimated for 16-25 year olds)

For this particular ethnic group, it is also a time when they navigate the intricate, often porous borders between the two cultures they inhabit... American and Latin American.

Latino Proficiency in English and School Enrollment

Proficiency

% of Latinos

Proficient in English

 

   Native born

98%

   Foreign born

47

Enrolled in high school or college

 

   Native born

59

   Foreign born

35

Source: PEW Hispanic Center, December 2009 (Foreign born refers to those born outside of the US including Puerto Rico)

Some other school notes:

  • 39.6% of all young adults ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in either a two- or four-year college in October 2008
  • 89% of Latinos ages 16-25 say a college education is needed to get ahead in life, more than the 82% who are of similar age in the general population
  • 86% of Latinos ages 16-25 are in school or the work force, up from 77% in 1970.

America's newest generation, the Millennials, is in this coming-of-age phase. As might be expected, they do better than their foreign-born counterparts on many key economic, social and acculturation indicators analyzed in this report. They are much more proficient in English and are less likely to drop out of high school, live in poverty or become a teen parent.

Generations, like people, have personalities. Their collective identities typically begin to reveal themselves when their oldest members move into their teens and twenties and begin to act on their values, attitudes and worldviews.

Demographic and Social Trends

  • 39.6% of all young adults ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in either a two- or four-year college in October 2008
  • 89% of Latinos ages 16-25 say a college education is needed to get ahead in life, more than those of similar age in the general population (82%)
  • 86% of Latinos ages 16-25 are in school or the work force, up from 77% in 1970
  • 22% of all children under the age 18 in the U.S. are Hispanic - up from 9% in 1980
  • 46.1% of 16- to 24-year-olds were employed in September 2009, the smallest share since the government began collecting such data in 1948
  • 85% of 18- to 24-year-olds have completed high school, an all-time high for this measure of educational attainment
  • 26% of Americans say there are major conflicts between young people and older adults, down from 42% in 1992
  • 49% of 16- to-29-year-olds often listen to rock music - the generation's favorite music; 41% often listen to rap
  • 42% of 16-to-24-year-olds say they often or sometimes have serious arguments with their parents

Media & digital LIfe

  • 71% of teens ages 12-17 have a cell phone, up from 45% in 2004
  • 38% of teens ages 12-17 send text messages daily, while a quarter send daily message via social networks. 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games; 50% played games "yesterday"

Politics and Values

  • 61% of those younger than age 30 completely agree that "it's my duty as a citizen to always vote," up from 46% in 2007
  • 25% of Americans ages 18-29 say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion
  • 2-to-1 Twice as many Americans see young people as more tolerant of different races and groups as say so about older people
  • 62% of voters age 18-29 identify as white, while 18% were black and 14% Hispanic
  • 33% of voters 18-29 attend religious services weekly, compared with 40% among all voters
  • 69% of voters ages 18-29 favor an expanded role for government, agreeing that it should do more to solve problems

Measured in raw numbers, the modern Latin American-dominated immigration wave is by far the largest in U.S. history. Nearly 40 million immigrants have come to the United States since 1965. About half are from Latin America, a quarter from Asia and the remainder from Europe, Canada, the Middle East and Africa. By contrast, about 14 million immigrants came during the big Northern and Western European immigration wave of the 19th century and about 18 million came during the big Southern and Eastern European-dominated immigration wave of the early 20th century.2

Waves of Immigration to the United States

Era & Country

Total (x000)

Share of Immigrants (%)

% of Immigrants per 1,000 Population

Modern Era 1965 to 2008

   Total

39,847

100%

46%

   Latin America

20,103

50

 

   South & East Asia

10,048

25

 

   Europe & Canada

5,621

14

 

   Mideast (Asia & Africa

1,531

4

 

 Southern/Eastern Europe Wave 1890 to 1919

   Total

18,244

100

8.8

   Italy

3,764

21

 

   Austria-Hungry

3,690

20

 

   Russia & Poland

3,166

17

 

   Latin America

551

3

 

   Asia

631

3

 

Northern Europe Wave 1840 to 1889

   Total

14,314

100

7.7

   Germany

4,282

30

 

   Ireland

3,209

22

 

   UK

2,586

18

 

   Other Northern Europe, SE Europe, Canada

3,722

25

 

   Latin America

101

1

 

   Asia

296

2

 

Source: Pew Hispanic Center, December 2009

Throughout this nation's history, says the report, immigrant assimilation has always meant something more than the sum of the sorts of economic and social measures outlined above. It also has a psychological dimension. Over the course of several generations, the immigrant family typically loosens its sense of identity from the old country and binds it to the new.
It is too soon to tell if this process will play out for today's Hispanic immigrants and their offspring in the same way it did for the European immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But whatever the ultimate trajectory, it is clear that many of today's Latino youths, be they first or second generation, are straddling two worlds as they adapt to the new homeland, concludes the report.

Please visit the Per Hispanic Center here to review and access the full report. Or here for additional embedded details.

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment about "Millinnial Hispanics".
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  1. Jason Bakker from Campus Media Group, December 23, 2009 at 10:01 a.m.

    Very interesting to see some of the subtle differences with Hispanic youth and non-Hispanic youth. Very informative. Thanks! Here is a list of the Top Campuses for Reaching Hispanic Youth for those that are interested. http://tiny.cc/1RiHC

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