Sunday, February 12, 2006

Latino Population: Demographic Information

Latino Population: Demographic Information

Latinos are the second largest minority population in the United States, totaling approximately 22.4 million people, or about 9 percent of the total U.S. population of about 250 million (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b). Between 1980 and 1990, the Latino population increased by 53 percent. This rate of growth is more than five times that of the total U.S. population (9.5 percent) and about eight times that of non-Latinos (6.6 percent). About half of this growth is attributed to the natural increase in the population, and the other half is the result of immigration (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b). It is estimated that by the year 2000 Latinos will become the largest minority group in the Nation and that by the year 2050 they will represent about 20 percent of the total U.S. population (National Council of La Raza, 1992).

Latinos are a culturally, demographically, and geographically diverse population. According to the 1990 census, persons of Mexican origin form the largest Latino population group in the United States, numbering more than 13 million persons, followed by Puerto Ricans, who number close to 3 million, and Cuban-Americans, numbering slightly more than 1 million (figure 1). In 1990, more than half of Latinos (64.2 percent) were native-born Americans and nearly three-quarters were either native-born or naturalized citizens (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b).

Latinos live in all 50 States and the District of Columbia (figure 2), but they are more concentrated in certain areas. In 1990, nearly 9 out of 10 Latinos lived in just 10 States. The four with the largest proportion of Latino residents were California, Florida, New York, and Texas. Other States with significant Latino populations were Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Mexico. According to Current Population Survey data, more than half of Latinos are concentrated in two States--California and Texas (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b).

The vast majority of Latinos live in urban areas. According to the 1990 census, more than 91 percent of Latinos are urban residents, compared with about 73 percent of non-Latinos (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1991).

Latinos are a young population. Current Population Survey data for 1993 show that nearly 66 percent of Latinos are younger than age 35. The median age for Latinos in the United States is 26.7 years--about 8 years less than the median age of 34.4 years for non-Latinos (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993a).

Among the three largest Latino groups, Cuban-Americans are the oldest, with a median age of 43.6 years; Mexican-Americans are the youngest, with a median age of 24.6 years; and Puerto Ricans fall in between, with a median age of 26.9 years. A growing segment of the Latino population, Central Americans and South Americans, reported a median age of 28.6 years (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993a).

Overall, educational attainment is lower for Latinos than for non-Latinos. In the United States, a little more than half of Latinos age 25 and older have a high school education; approximately 12 percent have a fifth-grade education or less; and 9 percent have a bachelor's degree or education above that level. Among non-Latinos, more than 80 percent have completed high school, slightly more than 1 percent have a fifth-grade education or less, and nearly 23 percent have a bachelor's degree or education above that level (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993a)
The diversity among Latino population groups also extends to educational attainment. In the United States, 46.2 percent of Americans, 59.8 percent of Puerto Ricans, 62.1 percent of Cuban-Americans, and 62.9 percent of Central Americans and South Americans have graduated from high school. Among those who classify themselves as "other Latino," 68.9 percent are high school graduates (figure 3).

In 1992, 29.3 percent of Latino households lived below the poverty level, compared with 13.1 percent of non-Latino households. The percent of Latino families living in poverty varies according to country of origin. Puerto Ricans have the highest percent (36.5 percent) of families living below the poverty level, followed by Mexican-Americans (30.1 percent), Central Americans and South Americans (26.7 percent), and Cuban-Americans (18.1 percent), as shown in figure 4.

Unemployment rates also are higher among Latinos than non-Latinos and exceed the total for the general population (figure 5). In 1993, unemployment rates were 11.9 percent for Latinos, 7.1 percent for non-Latinos, and 7.4 percent for the total population. Unemployment was highest among Puerto Ricans (14.4 percent), closely followed by Central Americans and South Americans (13.2 percent) and Mexican-Americans (11.7 percent). Cuban-Americans had the lowest rate of unemployment at 7.3 percent (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993a).

Latino men are most likely to be employed as operators, fabricators, or laborers. The greatest difference between Latino men and their non-Latino counterparts is in managerial and professional positions (27.4 percent of non-Latino men compared with 12 percent of Latino men). Latinas (hereafter referred to as Latino women) are most likely to work in technical, sales, or administrative support positions, and their largest discrepancy is in service positions, with 24 percent of Latino women working as service providers as opposed to 17 percent of non-Latino women (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b).

According to the 1990 census, about 78 percent of Latinos over the age of 5 speak a language other than English in the home. This language is almost always Spanish. About 49 percent of Latinos reported that they speak English very well, about 14 percent said they speak English well, and about 37 percent said that they speak English poorly or not at all (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1993b).

Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than other Americans. In 1992, slightly more than one-third did not have health insurance (figure 6). A contributing factor is that programs such as Medicaid offer limited coverage to the unemployed but not to the working poor. Consequently, Latinos have less access to preventive and primary health care. Conditions that can be prevented or controlled in a doctor's office often are not addressed and can lead to costly hospitalizations.

Note: Graphs at URL Websource:

National Council of La Raza. State of Hispanic America 1991: An Overview. Washington, DC: National Council of La Raza, 1992.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Current population reports, Series P20-475. Hispanic Population in the United States: March 1993. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993a.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. Selected Social Characteristics: 1990, United States. 1990 Census of Population and Housing (CPH-L-80). Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1991.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. We the American... Hispanics. November 1993. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993b.

Latino Resources Home | Public Information
Information for Health Planners | NHLBI Home

Salud para su Corazón (For the Health of Your Heart) is an exciting new and comprehensive community-based heart-health promotion initiative from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. It targets Latinos living in the United States. The project raises awareness of the risk factors and promotes lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of developing heart disease.

Why was Salud para su Corazón established?
The Latino population is a very young and rapidly growing segment of our society. However, despite this younger age, the leading cause of death among Latinos is heart disease. Latinos are also generally unaware of important lifestyle changes that could help prevent heart disease. This knowledge gap transcends socioeconomic status.
The initiative began in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Community leaders, through the Community Alliance Working for Heart Health, carried out the activities using culturally sensitive strategies and educational materials.

Salud para su Corazón offers many educational materials in English and Spanish for the general public and community health planners.

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