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Latino Survey Shows Native Born Latino Adults in the Minority

LatinaLista — There is a new survey out about Latinos.

Yet before anyone gets too excited, the survey, to the casual reader, reads more like a profile of Latinos who are recent immigrants than native born.

Titled the Latino National Survey, it is the result of a comprehensive, 4-year effort spearheaded by an impressive group of Government and Political Science academicians at several prestigious universities across the country. The survey interviewers contacted 8,643 Latino adults.

Among the survey’s findings are:
61% prefer Spanish
35% prefer the term “Hispanic;” 13.4% prefer to be called “Latino”
51% don’t access the Internet at all
69% if born in another country are not naturalized citizens
52% said they could carry on a conversation in English “just a little”

As you can see, any native born Latino would find it hard to say that this survey reflects their reality.

Yet Professor Michael Jones-Correa of Cornell University, one of the principal investigators of the survey, tells Latina Lista that the survey presents a more accurate picture of who comprises today’s Latino community than even some of us ever imagined.

Prof. Jones-Correa

The survey, a representative sample of 8,643 Latino adults residing in the U.S., is about 66% foreign born — this is the proportion of foreign born in the Latino population as a whole. So although the sample is primarily composed of foreign-born adults, it reflects the reality of the Latino population: adults are largely foreign born.

However the survey has a great deal to say about the native born as well. There are about 2,838 native born Latinos in the sample. Taken on its own, this portion of the survey is still a substantially larger sample than that for many existing surveys of Latinos, including recent Pew surveys, or surveys of Latino voters. One of the unique aspects of the survey is that it allows analysis of not only second generation Latinos, but third and fourth generation as well. We’ll definitely be analyzing the native born experience as well as the experience of the foreign born, and the differences between these.

It is a difference that is worth noting.

For those in the Latino community who are native born, English dominant, this survey would seem to discount these experiences. In fact, it is a rising battle among some in the media that advertisers, newspapers, television ratings researchers, etc. are ignoring the native born Latino altogether.

But there is promising news.

A recent Ad Age article found that “Work for bilingual and English-speaking Hispanics is becoming a bigger part of agencies’ business.”

And Professor Jones-Correa even foresees a change on the horizon when it comes to how marketers will approach the Latino community:

On the question of media strategies: there are two pieces of information which suggest that a media strategy targeted only at Spanish speaking Latinos will be insufficient. One is the data that we presented in DC tracking media use over time in the US and across generations, which suggests that even in the first generation a substantial portion of that population begins using English language media; this trend is even more pronounced across generations, with the second generation shifting away from Spanish-only media. The second is that although the adult population is largely foreign-born, the Latino population as a whole is largely native born. The reason for this is that 85% of those Latinos under the age of 18 are native-born. This young second generation — who are not interviewed in our survey — are much more likely to be English dominant than their parents.

Very true, but I guess the real crux of the dilemma is that too many native born, English dominant Latinos today are tired of being confused with our recently arrived hermanos.

And a chasm between the two groups is slowly building.

Unless more studies targeting native born Latinos are made, there will be a continuous misperception in the mindset of society-at-large that all Latinos speak Spanish, are recent immigrants, and are undocumented.

However, the only thing undocumented when it comes to native born Latinos is the part they play in the overall Latino equation.

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