A new survey of Hispanic Americans shows the large ethnic bloc is assimilating rapidly.
Roughly 18 percent of Americans say they’re Hispanic or Latino, making it the second largest ethnic group. But the Pew Research Center says that through assimilation, many stop identifying as Hispanic over generations.
Pew says that of the 42.7 million adults with Hispanic ancestry, about 90 percent self-identified as Hispanic or Latino in 2015.
Nearly all (97 percent) of new adult immigrants from Latin America, or in some cases, Spain, say they’re Hispanic. For their U.S.-born children, that falls to 92 percent. For the next generation, 77 percent say they’re Hispanic, and for the next, it’s only about half, according to Pew.
“The closer they are to their immigrant roots, the more likely Americans with Hispanic ancestry are to identify as Hispanic,” Pew wrote in a news release.
There are several factors driving this. First, the number of immigrants from Latin America has slowed since the 2000s, largely driven by the economic turmoil caused by the Great Recession. This, Pew says, has caused the Hispanic population to grow at rate about half as fast as in the past.
Another driver is intermarriage. In 2015, about one quarter of Latinos married a non-Latino spouse. This is higher than the rates of intermarriage for blacks and whites. Pew found that of those surveyed, 18 percent of immigrants say they have a non-Latino parent or grandparent. This rises to 29 percent by the second generation, and 65 percent from the third generation onward.
Another factor is that the Hispanic population is more dispersed than it was decades ago. According to Pew, 500 of the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. have at least 15 percent Hispanic populations.
“Among self-identified Latinos, the foreign born and the second generation are most likely to say that all or most of their neighbors share their heritage,” Pew wrote. “Some 41 percent of both groups say this. The share that lives in largely Latino neighborhoods falls to 30 percent among third or higher generation self-identified Latinos.”
Pew also found that many Latinos stop using their country of origin or roots as the generations pass. They found 65 percent of immigrants use the name of their origin country. For second-generation Latinos, only 36 percent use it, and for the next generation, it falls to 26 percent.
Only 7 percent of recent arrivals call themselves Americans, but that rises to 56 percent for the third or higher generations. Some 50 percent of Latinos “consider themselves to be a typical American,” and 44 percent say they are “very different.” This, Pew says, varies widely among generations.
In another finding, Pew found that 71 percent of Latino adults say “speaking Spanish is not required to be considered Latino.”
Still, some 61 percent of immigrants say Spanish is the dominant language. This falls to a mere 6 percent for the second generation. Slightly more than half (51 percent) of U.S.-born Latinos are bilingual. English dominance rises with each passing generation, with only 7 percent of immigrants saying they mostly use English. This compares to 43 percent in the second generation. and 75 percent for the third generation or higher.
Find Pew’s complete findings here.