Professor Laird Bergad Says Mexicans Will Likely Become Largest Latino Nationality in the Region

October 8, 2013 9:28 am History Dept, Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies Dept

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies today announced the findings of two studies, including one about the fast-growing Mexican-origin population in the New York metropolitan area, whose growth rate exceeds that of all other Latino groups.

The second report, on Latinas in the New York City region, indicates that while their rapidly advancing educational attainment has bested educational levels of Latino men, Latinas continued to earn lower personal and household incomes than Latino males.

The New York City Mexican population grew substantially during the years between 1990 and 2010, increasing from 96,662 to over 600,000 in the latter year.

“The growth of the Mexican population in New York City was due to large-scale migration after 1990, as well as comparatively high fertility and birth rates among Mexican women compared with Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, and Colombians, the region’s other major Latino nationalities,” said Laird W. Bergad, Distinguished Professor of History, Lehman College and the Graduate Center and director of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean & Latino Studies. (see Figure 4 p.13)

Bergad predicts, based on the report’s findings, that persons of Mexican origin will be the largest Latino nationality in the region by the decade of the 2020s, if the population growth rate over this time period continues as anticipated.

The report, “Demographic, Economic and Social Transformations in the Mexican-Origin Population of the New York City Metropolitan Area, 1990 – 2010 is based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey Data as provided by IPUMS USA.

Mexicans were the only Latino nationality in the region experiencing a decline in median household income between 1990 and 2010. This was largely because of an increase in the migration of lower-skilled males and females to the region, and an increase in lower-paid female-headed Mexican households. In 1990, 25 percent of all Mexican-origin households in New York City were headed by women; this increased to 38 percent in 2010.

The poverty rate among Mexicans rose from 19 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2010. This was related to relatively high poverty among Mexican households headed by immigrants. Childhood poverty has also grown, and in 2010, 36 percent of Mexicans 14 years of age and younger were living in poverty, as classified by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Yet Mexicans had the lowest unemployment rate in 2010, at 6.4 percent, of the major Latino national subgroups in the region, and very high labor force participation rates at 66 percent. This finding suggests employment in lower-skilled and lower-paying jobs because they are more recent immigrants with lower human capital.

The study also shows that nearly 40 percent of the Mexican population did not have health insurance, the highest rate among all of the Latino nationalities in the region. However, there was a large differentiation by nativity. Some 34 percent of foreign-born Mexicans had health insurance compared with 90 percent of domestic-born Mexicans, because their status, whether legal or undocumented, makes acquisition of insurance more difficult.

When education is considered, there was a sharp divide between Mexicans born in the U.S. and those born in Mexico. Only 6 percent of foreign-born Mexicans 25 years of age or older in the region had graduated from college in 2010, compared with 40 percent of domestic-born Mexican adults.

However, Mexican children were overwhelmingly enrolled in school, a finding in sharp contrast with the conclusions of a March 2013 report issued by the Community Service Society, which claimed that only 37 percent of Mexican “young people” were enrolled in school. In fact, census data indicate that 93 percent of all Mexican-origin children between 5 and 18 years of age in 2010 were enrolled in school in the tristate New York City metropolitan area.

In a second report, also released by the Center, “Latinas in New York City: A Comparison of Education and Income, 1990–2010,” Latinas in New York City who were 25 years of age and older increased their educational levels significantly.

In 1990, 8.2 percent of the City’s Latina adults had completed a B.A. degree or higher. By 2010 this had risen to 17 percent, compared with 13 percent of Latino males who had graduated college. Yet despite higher levels of education, Latinas in the City continued to earn lower personal and household incomes than Latino males.

“From 1990 to 2010 Latinas’ educational attainment and personal and household income steadily increased; however, they continued to lag behind New York City’s non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Asian women,” said Justine Calcagno, author of the report and Ph.D. candidate in Social Psychology, the Graduate Center. “Females from these other race/ethnic groups had greater percentages achieving a B.A. degree or higher as well as greater income levels in all years from 1990 to 2010.”

Within the City’s Latina communities, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Ecuadorian, and Dominican females steadily improved their rates of college graduation and experienced increases in income. However, Mexican women’s educational attainment levels did not improve, nor did they earn greater incomes between 1990 and 2010. The reason for this was the large influx of poorly educated foreign-born Mexican women to the City after 1990. (See Figure 8, p. 12)

Among all Latinas there was sharp differentiation in the educational and income levels of domestic-born versus foreign-born women. Latinas born in the United States generally achieved higher educational attainment levels and greater incomes than their foreign-born counterparts.