Even as the Hispanic population continues to grow rapidly, the residential separation of most Hispanic groups has declined sharply in the last two decades, according to a new analysis of census data released by the US2010 Project at Brown University. The important exception - Mexicans, who are more than half ofthe nation's Hispanics.
"This is a surprise, since previous studies dealing with all Hispanics as a single category have repeatedly found no change since 1990," said John R. Logan, co-author of the report and Professor of Sociology at Brown University. "It reminds us that Hispanics come to the U.S. from many origins, and there are real differences between Mexicans and other groups like Puerto Ricans and Central Americans. Some strong boundaries faced by these smaller groups seem to be breaking down over time."
South Americans, who generally have higher education and lower rates of poverty than other Hispanics, are the least segregated based on the most common measure of segregation, the Index of Dissimilarity. On average they live in neighborhoods that are about one-third Hispanic. Puerto Ricans are the group that has experienced the largest drop in segregation, and they live in neighborhoods that are just over 30% Hispanic. The figure for the average Mexican is 50.1%.
The study emphasizes the emergence of new sources of the Hispanic population, with the fastest growth among Dominicans, Central Americans, and South Americans. Some groups that barely registered in 1990 are now quite large: Salvadorans over 1.6 million, Guatemalans over 1 million. The new report includes information for 1990-2010 on the size of each national-origin category,their social and economic characteristics, their location around the country, residential segregation, and the quality of neighborhoods where they live.
"This diversity among Hispanics means that efforts to reach out to Hispanics by marketers or politicians have to take account of some very strong differences hidden by their common language," said Logan. "Divisions based on origin,regional concentration, and class position are also potential obstacles to a unified pan-Hispanic voice in American politics."
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