Department of Data
Analysis by Andrew Van Dam
Analysis by Andrew Van Dam
May 19, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EDT
If “Hispanic” were an ordinary ancestry, it would easily be America’s most common, well ahead of German. But it’s not. It’s a fantastically broad term whose meaning swerves and sways depending on whom — and where — you’re asking.
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Since 1997, the U.S. government has defined Hispanic (or Latino) as “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” In most of the United States, the largest Hispanic group is Mexican.
Of course it is! Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country on Earth, by far, and it shares 1,954 miles of border with the United States. More importantly, a third of the continental United States — parts of 10 states that are now home to at least 1 in 4 Americans — used to be part of Mexico.
But a substantial share of Hispanic Americans also come from Puerto Rico, especially those living in the Northeast and Central Florida. Puerto Ricans also dominate Puerto Rico, of course — though at this point, Puerto Ricans on the mainland outnumber those in the Caribbean territory.
And there are large pockets of Hispanics from other places: Central Americans dominate in the D.C. area. Folks from South America and the Caribbean predominate in Florida and the New York-to-Boston urban corridor. And in New Mexico and southern Colorado, there’s a significant population of Hispanos — descendants of people who settled there centuries before Mexico gained independence from Spain and whose roots trace directly to that European nation.
Despite their different origins, these Hispanic groups share many similarities, both to each other and to the nation as a whole. Most Hispanic Americans were born in the United States (68 percent), for example. And while many speak Spanish at home, a third speak only English (32 percent).
These statistics come with a fat asterisk: As it turns out, they don’t include everybody who considers themselves “Hispanic or Latino.” We know this thanks to the demographic demigods at the Pew Research Center, who discovered a revealing aberration in a recent census data release.
For years, Census Bureau figures have shown that only about 3 percent of Brazilian-born U.S. residents claim to be Hispanic or Latino. But a whopping 70 percent of Brazilian-born Americans claimed “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” in the bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
Jeffrey Passel, a thoughtful demographer whose tidy white beard attests to a long career at Pew and Census, spotted this enormous shift last year. But what does it mean?
“Latino” is typically defined as someone from Latin America. Given that Brazil is easily the largest nation in Latin America — home to about 1 in 3 of its residents, according to the World Bank — it seems reasonable for Brazilians to consider themselves Latino.
But as a former colony of Portugal, Brazil has no Spanish heritage. It therefore doesn’t meet the government definition of “Hispanic or Latino.” So for decades, as Passel and his Pew colleague Jens Manuel Krogstad discovered, the folks at Census had been excluding Brazilians who claimed to be Hispanic or Latino from the official count.
Brazil wasn’t the only nation affected. People from Belize — a former British colony where English is the official language — and a few other non-Spanish places, mostly in the Caribbean, also failed to make the cut.
Few noticed this behind-the-scenes bookkeeping until 2020, when the astonishingly assiduous and all-but-infallible folks at Census neglected to reclassify the responses. As a result, the 2020 survey offers a window into how Brazilians and other folks view their identity, before Census overrides their choices.
To extent that Brazilian Americans do consider themselves Latino, their embrace of that identity has been gradual. As Claudia Barcellos Rezende of the State University of Rio de Janeiro told us, you don’t often encounter the notion of Latin American identity until you leave the region. In Brazil, folks simply think of themselves as Brazilian.
Once in the United States, however, the situation changes. Mark Costa, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist and researcher who grew up in Brazil, once considered himself what the Census Bureau might call “non-Hispanic White.” But then he came to the United States and learned — from Americans — that he was “Latino.”
Nowadays, Costa told us, “I don’t like identifying myself as White because I’m not seen as White.”
Costa’s wife, Graziela Reis, project coordinator at the Yale School of Medicine, said it was shocking to discover that Americans viewed her as having a different ethnic identity. She said she suffers a tiny existential crisis every time she’s asked to check a box to state her race and ethnicity.
In a new review in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Costa and Reis worked with Elizabeth Brisola of St. Edward’s University and Yale’s Chyrell Bellamy to explore the mental health consequences of being ethnically “invisible” in much of the United States’ data and administrative programs. They argue that this cloak of invisibility may help explain why Brazilian immigrants are twice as likely to report anxiety as other immigrants.
The enormous Brazil-shaped hole in our data fosters systemic discrimination, Costa said, adding that Brazilians are often overlooked by targeted efforts of all kinds, including in the health-care sector. That would change, researchers told us, if they were officially categorized as Latino, one of America’s most influential demographic groups.
“I am glad we are embracing the identity,” said Cileine de Lourenco, a Brazilian immigrant and professor emerita at Bryant University in Rhode Island.
If these questions of identity sound exceedingly complicated, you don’t know the half of it. For 30 years starting in 1970, the Census Bureau asked simply whether you considered yourself Hispanic. The “or Latino” bit was added in 2000, after officials noticed that some people of Hispanic origin weren’t identifying with that specific term.
In a 2013 survey asking Hispanic or Latino Americans how they described themselves, Pew Research found that “Hispanic” was twice as popular as “Latino.” But words describing specific national origin — “Cuban” or “Mexican” or “Dominican” — beat both terms, said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of race and ethnicity research at Pew.
(It’s worth noting that virtually nobody chose Latinx, the gender-neutral form of Latino that has gained traction mostly in academic and media circles. “It is a term that the public itself is relatively unaware of,” Lopez said.)
Part of the complexity stems from the government’s decades-old decision to treat ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino) as something separate and distinct from race (Black, Native American, White) and even ancestry (German, Egyptian, American). This odd tripartite sectioning of the messy American melting pot forces folks to run a multi-question gantlet of overlapping notions when they fill out the census survey. Census staffers then step in to untangle the results.
During the Obama administration, there was a push to consolidate race and ethnicity into a single category, and to expand that category to include options for people with Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) heritage. Supporters argued the move would paint a clearer and more useful picture of the population.
That idea was shelved during the Trump administration. In researching his baby boomer book, “The Aftermath,” our colleague Philip Bump interviewed people who said they suspect Trump officials were concerned that the move would serve to further shrink an already shrinking White population. Most MENA Americans are counted as White and, until recent changes boosted the count of mixed-race people, so were about two-thirds of Hispanic Americans.
Under President Biden, the proposal to consolidate race and ethnicity has been revived by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and it now seems on track to be adopted next year. As currently proposed, the changes would eliminate the need for Hispanics or Latinos to select a separate race such as “White,” though they could still choose to mark multiple backgrounds.
As it stands, the proposal would not change the government’s definition of Hispanic or Latino, which Pew’s Lopez points out could be constrained by a 1976 law requiring statistics on “Americans of Spanish origin or descent.”
That may mean that, despite the frustration found in at least a few of the 20,000-plus public comments that have roared in, Brazilians still may not be considered Latino.
“That doesn’t make sense,” said Luciano Tosta, a Brazilian American professor at the University of Kansas who identifies as Latino. “They haven’t done their homework correctly.”
Ahoy there! The Department of Data covets quantitative queries. What do you wonder about: How our country-of-origin maps would look for America’s Asian or African populations? What’s the low point of most people’s days? What places have the most animals named after them? Just ask!
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What defines Hispanic or Latino in the U.S. Census Bureau? ›
OMB defines "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.What is the census data on Hispanics? ›
The data show that the Hispanic population reporting one race decreased from over 81.6% in 2010 to less than 57.8% in 2020. Meanwhile, over one-third of the Hispanic population reported two or more races, up from 2.6 million people in 2010 to 18.6 million people in 2020.When were Hispanics first counted in the U.S. Census? ›
Since 1930, some segments of the Hispanic population have been counted in the census. In 1930, 1.3 million Mexicans" were reported. In 1950, 2.3 million persons of Spanish surname" were reported, and in 1970, 9.1 million persons of Spanish" origin were reported.What was the Hispanic population in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau ________________ million? ›
The U.S. Hispanic population refers to those living in the 50 states and District of Columbia. The U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.5 million in 2021, up from 50.5 million in 2010.What's the difference between Hispanic and Latino? ›
Hispanic refers to a person with ancestry from a country whose primary language is Spanish. Latino and its variations refer to a person with origins from anywhere in Latin America (Mexico, South and Central America) and the Caribbean.What does it mean to be not Hispanic or Latino? ›
WHITE (No- Hispanic or Latino) All persons having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the. Middle East.
According to 2020 Census data, there are 62.1 million Hispanics living in the United States. This group represents 18.9 percent of the total U.S. population, the nation's second largest racial or ethnic group after non-Hispanic whites. In 2020, among Hispanic subgroups, Mexicans ranked as the largest at 61.6 percent.How many races does the US census recognize? ›
OMB requires five minimum categories (White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander) for race. OMB permits the Census Bureau to also use a sixth category - Some Other Race. Respondents may report more than one race.Is there a census in Latin America? ›
The Latin America Census Collection comes complete with full metadata as well as the original census documentation for each country, allowing researchers to see first-hand how the data was gathered.What is Hispanic according to the US Census quizlet? ›
Many people mistakenly believe that the classification "Hispanic" or "Latino/a" is a "race." According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic or Latino/a is an ethnicity that refers to a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin.
What three races can Hispanics be according to census data? ›
People who identify with the terms “Hispanic,” “Latino,” or “Spanish” are those who classify themselves in one of the specific Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish categories listed on the questionnaire (“Mexican, Mexican Am., or Chicano,” “Puerto Rican,” or “Cuban”) as well as those who indicate that they are “another ...How many Hispanic people were there in the 1970 census? ›
|Census Year||Hispanic Population (millions)||Implied Annual Growth Rate (%)|
Hispanics in the United States
People of Mexican origin were the largest Hispanic group, making up 63.0% of the total U.S. Hispanic population. They were followed by those who identified as Other Hispanic (14.9%) and Puerto Rican (8.8%).
In 2010, there were 50.5 million Hispanics in the United States, composing 16 percent of the total population (see Table 1). Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic popu- lation grew by 43 percent—rising from 35.3 million in 2000, when this group made up 13 percent of the total population.What are the U.S. Census estimates for percentage of Hispanic Americans in 2050? ›
By 2050, the nation's racial and ethnic mix will look quite different than it does now. Non-Hispanic whites, who made up 67% of the population in 2005, will be 47% in 2050. Hispanics will rise from 14% of the population in 2005 to 29% in 2050.Can I be both Hispanic and Latino? ›
Hispanic also refers to those from Spain. The terms Hispanic and Latino are sometimes used interchangeably and overlap in many ways. And although they are separate terms, a person can be both Hispanic and Latino, but it also does not mean everyone considers themselves both.What is important in the Hispanic culture? ›
Hispanics come from a collectivistic culture where group activities are dominant, responsibility is shared, and accountability is collective. Because of the emphasis on collectivity, harmony and cooperation in the group tend to be emphasized more than individual function and responsibility (Gudykunst, 1998).What is the difference between Hispanic and Latino and Chicano? ›
In the same way that “Hispanic” identifies someone with Spanish roots, “Chicano” refers to Americans of Mexican ancestry. These folks do not identify as Hispanic, which they feel would not account for their Mexican mestizo (a mix of Spanish and Indigenous) heritage.Are Mexicans Latino or Hispanic? ›
OMB defines "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.Why can't we say Latinx? ›
In December 2021, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Hispanic and Latino civil rights organization in the U.S., and Congressman Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., stated they would no longer use the term "Latinx" because it was offensive to some and failed to prove it had a wide acceptance.
Is Latino male or female? ›
Latina is the feminine noun and Latino is the masculine noun. Individuals have begun to challenge the word because we have folks that are part of the Latina/o community, yet prefer not to be associated with masculine or feminine nouns.What is considered Hispanic ethnicity? ›
Hispanic origin. Hispanic or Latino origin includes people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, Dominican, and other or unknown Latin American or Spanish origin. People of Hispanic origin may be of any race.What is the difference between Hispanic and Mexican? ›
Mexican refers to an inhabitant or a native of Mexico which is a Latin American country. Hispanic refers to a person who speaks Spanish, one of Latin American descent and resides in the USA. In Mexico, Spanish is the main language but that doesn't mean that all Mexicans can and do speak the language.What percentage of the U.S. population is non-Hispanic? ›
The United States Census Bureau defines non-Hispanic white as white Americans who are not of Hispanic or Latino ancestry (i.e., having ancestry from Spain or Latin America). At 191.6 million in 2020, non-Hispanic whites comprise 57.8% of the total U.S. population.How does the census determine ethnicity? ›
The data on race were derived from answers to the question on race that was asked of individuals in the United States. The Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and these data are based on self-identification.Does the US Census count everyone? ›
Yes, all people (citizens and noncitizens) with a usual residence in the United States are included in the resident population for the census.Does the census ask for race or ethnicity? ›
The U.S. Census Bureau collects racial data in accordance with the 1997 Office of Management and Budget standards on race and ethnicity. The data on race are based on self-identification and the categories on the form generally reflect a social definition of race.What is the oldest U.S. census? ›
The first census in the United States took place beginning on August 2, 1790. Although it took months to collect all the data from households, census takers were instructed to collect information as of August 2. For more information, see the 1790 Overview page.Where counts as Latin America? ›
Latin America is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America in addition to Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean whose inhabitants speak a Romance language.What is the white population in Latin America? ›
|178.6 million – 219.4 million 31.8 – 40.0% of Latin American population Figures exclude French, Dutch, and English-speaking areas of the Americas|
|Regions with significant populations|
How much of the U.S. population is made up of Hispanics according to the 2014 census? ›
The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2014, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation's total population.What is the estimated Hispanic population according to the 2015 US Census? ›
56.6 million. The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2015, making people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17.6 percent of the nation's total population.What is the fourth largest group of Latinos living in the U.S. quizlet? ›
Cuban Americans are the fourth-largest Hispanic group and continue to be defined, to some extent, by the political relationship between the United States and Cuba.What are the three main groups of Hispanics? ›
Puerto Ricans are the largest group in the Orlando, Florida, metro area, while Salvadorans are the largest in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Cubans are the largest origin group in the Miami metro area. 7The median age of U.S. Latinos has increased since 2010.What is the difference between race and ethnicity on forms? ›
Race refers to the concept of dividing people into groups on the basis of various sets of physical characteristics and the process of ascribing social meaning to those groups. Ethnicity describes the culture of people in a given geographic region, including their language, heritage, religion and customs.How has the US Census changed over time? ›
Enumeration Methods Have Changed With Technology
Over the decades, census-taking switched from a task of the U.S. marshals to one of specially-trained enumerators (who took over in 1880), and from paper-and-pencil tabulation, to punch-cards, to electronic data collection.
OMB requires federal agencies to use a minimum of two ethnicities in collecting and reporting data: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. OMB defines "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.When did Hispanic first appear on the U.S. census? ›
Since 1930, some segments of the Hispanic population have been counted in the census. In 1930, 1.3 million Mexicans" were reported. In 1950, 2.3 million persons of Spanish surname" were reported, and in 1970, 9.1 million persons of Spanish" origin were reported.What is the census of Hispanics? ›
The Census Bureau estimates there were roughly 62.6 million Hispanics in the U.S. as of 2021, making up 19% of the nation's population, both new highs.What is the most successful Hispanic group in the United States? ›
While Mexicans owned more businesses than any other Latino group, businesses owned by Cubans were, in general, more profitable. Stereotypes held by Latinos and non-Latinos alike said that Cubans were the most entrepreneurially successful of all Latino groups, or, conversely, that Mexicans lack business savvy.
What are 3 top states with Hispanics and their Hispanic population numbers? ›
Nearly half (48%) of New Mexico's population is Latino, the highest share among the states. New Mexico is followed by California and Texas, whose populations are 39% Latino in each. Nearly one-third of Arizona's population (31%) was Latino in 2014, as were about a quarter of Nevada's (28%) and Florida's (24%).How much of the U.S. population growth is Latino? ›
The U.S. Latino population reached 62.5 million in 2021, accounting for 19% of the U.S. population—up from 13% in 2000. Since then, Latinos have been the largest contributor to U.S. population growth, accounting for 54% of the growth.What is the difference between Hispanic and Latino? ›
Hispanic refers to a person with ancestry from a country whose primary language is Spanish. Latino and its variations refer to a person with origins from anywhere in Latin America (Mexico, South and Central America) and the Caribbean.What was the largest Hispanic or Latino origin population by type in the U.S. in 2010? ›
In 2010, people of Mexican origin comprised the largest Hispanic group, representing 63 percent of the total Hispanic population in the United States (up from 58 percent in 2000) as shown in Figure 2.How has the amount of Hispanics changed between the 2000 census and the 2010 Census? ›
Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, rising from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. The rise in the Hispanic population accounted for more than half of the 27.3 million increase in the total U.S. population.What state has the largest Hispanic population in the United States? ›
In 2021, California had the highest Hispanic population in the United States, with over 15.75 million people claiming Hispanic heritage.Which U.S. state has the lowest Hispanic population? ›
Maine, West Virginia, and Vermont were among those with the lowest Hispanic population shares, at 1% each.In what coming years the population percentage of non hispanic whites in the U.S. is predicted to see? ›
The new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.7 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.9 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations (see Figure 1).What race categories are considered Latino on the U.S. Census? ›
People who identify with the terms “Hispanic,” “Latino,” or “Spanish” are those who classify themselves in one of the specific Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish categories listed on the questionnaire (“Mexican, Mexican Am., or Chicano,” “Puerto Rican,” or “Cuban”) as well as those who indicate that they are “another ...How does the Census Bureau define race and ethnicity? ›
OMB requires five minimum categories (White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander) for race. OMB permits the Census Bureau to also use a sixth category - Some Other Race. Respondents may report more than one race.
Does Italian count as Latino? ›
Among these Romance languages are Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Rumanian. Therefore, all Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Rumanians, and Portuguese, as well as all those Latin Americans whose language is Spanish or Portuguese (an English-speaking person from Jamaica would not qualify) are latinos.What are 10 different races? ›
- American Indian or Alaska Native.
- Black or African American.
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
Race is a person's self-identification with one or more social groups. On census surveys, an individual can report as White, Black or African American, Asian, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, or some other race. Additionally, respondents may report multiple races.What is the difference between nationality and ethnicity? ›
Nationality refers to the country of citizenship. Nationality is sometimes used to mean ethnicity, although the two are technically different. People can share the same nationality but be of different ethnic groups and people who share an ethnic identity can be of different nationalities.Why does the census ask about ethnicity? ›
We ask a question about a person's race to create statistics about race and to present other estimates by race groups. Local, state, tribal, and federal programs use these data, and they are critical factors in the basic research behind numerous policies, particularly for civil rights.What do I fill in race in form? ›
- American Indian or Alaska Native. ...
- Asian. ...
- Black or African American. ...
- Hispanic or Latino. ...
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. ...
People in the US who have origins in a Latin American country occasionally self-identify or are referred to as Latin American, but many prefer the term Latino/a (for Latino, masculine, or Latina, feminine).Who are called Hispanic? ›
"Hispanic" is generally accepted as a narrower term that includes people only from Spanish-speaking Latin America, including those countries/territories of the Caribbean or from Spain itself.What are the 6 human races? ›
- the Ethiopian/black race.
- the Caucasian race/white race.
- the Mongolian/yellow race.
- the American/red race.
- the Malayan/brown race.
Using gene frequency data for 62 protein loci and 23 blood group loci, we studied the genetic relationship of the three major races of man, Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. Genetic distance data indicate that Caucasoid and Mongoloid are somewhat closer to each other than to Negroid.