Hispanic Groups Many Commentators Speak Term Paper

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Hispanic Groups

Many commentators speak of the Hispanic population in the United States as if it were monolithic and uniform, which it is not. Several different groups can be identified by country of origin, though all might be lumped together as Hispanic or Latino. Four such groups are Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, and Cubans. These groups differ on several cultural measures as well as in terms of differing histories and differing routes to the U.S.

According to the 2000 Census, the Latino population in America is self-identified as follows:

HISPANIC or LATINO

Total population 281,421,906 100.0

Hispanic or Latino

Not Hispanic or Latino 246,116,088

This means that roughly 13% of the population is identified as Latino or Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000, p. 3).

The Latino population across the country is overwhelmingly Catholic in religion, and this is also a very religious community. The largest proportion of Latinos in America are Mexican (58.5% of the total), followed by Puerto Rican (9.6%), Cuban (3.5%), Dominican (2.2%), and Central American (4.8%), with others from South America (3.8%) and other areas (17.6%)(U.S. Hispanic/Latino Population, 2004). Overall, the Hispanic population in America is younger than the non-Hispanic White population, with 29.6% of Hispanics under 15 compared to 20.4% of non-Hispanic Whites, while about twice as many non-Hispanic Whites are 55 years old and over. The median age of the Latino population is 26.7 years, about 9 years less than that of the non-Hispanic White population (Del Pinal, 2001). The social structure for Latinos tends more toward the extended family.

One of the themes cited by various writers is the subsidiary role of Latinas in Latino culture and the prevalence of a macho culture among immigrants, carried over from their native culture. Bourgois (1996) finds this among Puerto Ricans in New York City, for instance, especially among a "growing cohort of marginalized men in the de-industrialized urban economy" (p. 412).

Puerto Rican immigrants to the U.S. differ from other Hispanic immigrant groups in one key respect because Puerto Ricans are American citizens, while other immigrants have to be naturalized to become American citizens.

The Mexican population is largest in the Southwest. Latinos in that area make up a distinct subculture, and there are two distinct elements in this subculture distinguished by legalities, the first the native-born, the second an immigrant population. The immigrant population is further differentiated as legals and illegals, depending on how the immigrant arrived and what his or her status is as far as the government is concerned. Los Angeles served as one of the regions of California with a large Hispanic population from the first, a population held over from the days before Americans came, and the presence of this community was one of the reasons for others moving northward into this area to join that existing society. Another reason for this move was the importance of agriculture in Southern California, and many of the Hispanics moving into this region had been employed in agriculture in their own land. Earlier in this century, the urban regions and the rural, agricultural regions were closer together than they are today because of settlement patterns, meaning that Hispanics could live in the city and commute to the fields (Sanchez, 1993, pp. 68-69).

The Hispanic population in Los Angeles today shows a high percentage in poverty -- among two parent families, some 17% are in poverty, more than twice the rate for blacks and whites. The absence of a male parent is also associated with a higher poverty rate at 46% (Steinberg, Lyon, & Vaiana, 1992, 87). The Hispanic population increased greatly in the 1980s while the Anglo and African-American populations decreased. The Hispanic population in Los Angeles stands at 40% of the total, with the population spread unevenly through different regions of the city. School enrollment shows the same trend. The huge influx of Hispanics into Los Angeles coincided with the loss of thousands of unionized blue-collar jobs in the area, and this has had an effect on the overall economy. The median income in the state is $36,000, while in Los Angeles it is at less than $31,000. In the state, 12.5% live in poverty, while in the city it is 18.5%. The median income for Hispanics is $28,200, only slightly higher than for blacks (the City in Crisis, 1992, pp. 34-39).

Cubans are the primary Hispanic group in Florida,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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