Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Report: It's the native-born, not immigrants, who now drive US Latino population growth



Students in a second-grade bilingual summer school class in Chicago, Illinois. As migration from Latin America has slowed, it's the U.S.-born children of immigrants who are now driving Latino population growth in the U.S.
Students in a second-grade bilingual summer school class in Chicago, Illinois. As migration from Latin America has slowed, it's the U.S.-born children of immigrants who are now driving Latino population growth in the U.S.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The days when immigration drove a burgeoning Latino population are no more, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The nation's Latino population is still growing, mind you,  but it's U.S.-born Latinos who are mostly responsible for it nowadays. Meanwhile, the number of foreign-born Latinos in the U.S. is declining as the influx of newcomers has slowed.

Pew's analysis of census data finds that between 2000 and 2010, there were 9.6 million babies born to Latinos in the U.S., while the number of new arrivals from Latin America was about 6.5 million. During this time, U.S. births accounted for 60% of overall Hispanic population growth.

Furthermore, this new generation is coming of age: About 800,000 U.S.-born Latinos enter adulthood every year, and that annual figure is expected to rise to more than a million in the coming years.

"For young Latinos who are born in the U.S., this generation, that second generation, is starting to come of age and really starting to shape everything, from the demographics of the Latino community, particularly among adults, but also entering the workforce, entering schools, and also potentially shaping the electorate," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research.

Many of these are the children of first-generation immigrants, Lopez said, including unauthorized immigrants who arrived during the last great wave of migration from Latin America that took off in the 1970s and slowed to a trickle in the last decade.

According to the report, between 1980 and 2000, it was immigration that drove the nation's Latino population growth, as the foreign-born Latino population swelled from 4.2 million to 14.1 million.

As younger, U.S.-born Latinos become a bigger cultural force, so change the dynamics of how Latinos in the U.S. live. For example, as with the general population, fewer Latinos are now marrying, according to the report. And the percentage of large households - with five or more people - headed by Latinos has declined, as two-person Latino households are on the rise. 

And not surprisingly, as advertisers and media executives already know, U.S.-born Latinos are also more likely to be exclusive English speakers, with about 70 percent of immigrant children ages 5 to 17 saying they "speak only English or speak English very well." From the report: 

About 12.3 million Hispanics ages 5 and older (26%) speak English at home exclusively. That share is 39% among the U.S. born and 4% among the foreign born.

The generational shift is being felt heavily in states like California, where Latinos are believed to have hit plurality status in March and now account for 39 percent of the population. It's also closely tied to the evolution of the nation's dominant Mexican American population, Lopez said; among other Latinos, such as Central Americans, the foreign-born still account for a bigger share, he said.

More stats from the report:

The top five states by Hispanic population in 2012 are: California (14.5 million), Texas (10 million), Florida (4.5 million), New York (3.6 million) and Illinois (2.1 million).

The five states where Hispanics make up the biggest share of the population in 2012 are: New Mexico (47%), California (38%), Texas (38%), Arizona (30%) and Nevada (27%).

Between 2000 and 2012, the five states with the fastest-growing Hispanic populations were: Tennessee (up 163%), South Carolina (161%), Alabama (157%), Kentucky (135%) and South Dakota (132%).

View the entire Pew report here.