August 26, 2008

A Profile of Hispanic Public School Students

III. Demographic Characteristics

Generation:7 Hispanic students have a very different generational composition than their non-Hispanic peers. Non-Hispanic public school students are overwhelmingly (87%) third-generation Americans and higher (native-born citizens with both parents also having been born in the U.S.). In comparison, only about one-third (35%) of Hispanic public school students are third-generation Americans or higher. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Hispanic public school students are either immigrants themselves (first generation) or the children of immigrants (second generation). Nearly half (48%) of Hispanic students are U.S.-born children of immigrants, and slightly less than one-fifth (17%) of Hispanic students are immigrants themselves.

Race:8 Two-thirds (66%) of all students enrolled in public schools identify themselves as being white. Among non-Hispanic students, seven-in-ten (70%) identify themselves as white. In comparison, about half (51%) of Hispanic students report being of white racial identity.

About 20% of non-Hispanic students in public schools identify themselves as black and 5% report being of Asian racial identity. Only about 5% of non-Hispanic students report a racial identity other than white, black or Asian. In contrast, Hispanic public school students are much more likely to report a racial identity other than white, black or Asian. About 42% of Hispanic students report that they are of “other” racial identity and 5% report being of “two or more races.”

There are some differences in the racial identity of Hispanic students by generation. Although the share of Hispanic students who self-identify as white is approximately 50% in each generation, the share who identify as being of two or more racial origins is greater in the third-and-higher generations than in the first generation. About 10% of Hispanic students in the third-and-higher generation report being of two or more racial origins. In comparison, only 3% of Hispanic second-generation students report being two or more races and 1% of foreign-born Hispanic students report multiple racial identity.

National Origin of Hispanic Students:9 More than two-thirds (69%) of Hispanic public school students are of Mexican origin. Although Mexican-origin students comprise the greatest share of Hispanic public school students in each generation, the Mexican share of students decreases among the third-and-higher generation. Nearly three-quarters of first- and second-generation Hispanic students (72% and 74%, respectively) are of Mexican origin. Only 60% of the third-and-higher generation Hispanic students are of Mexican origin.

After those of Mexican origin, students of Dominican (4%) and Salvadoran (4%) origin are the largest groups of first- and second-generation Hispanic students. Among the third-and-higher generation Hispanic public school students, Puerto Ricans (22%) and Cubans (1%) comprise the second- and third- largest groups.

  1. First-generation students are foreign born. For second-and-higher generation students, generation is determined using the citizenship status of one or both parents. The generation of a native-born student who does not live with at least one parent cannot be determined.
  2. The American Community Survey asks all respondents to provide their ethnicity and racial identity by answering two separate questions. To determine ethnicity, all respondents are first asked, “Is this person of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?” for all persons in their household. To determine racial identity, all respondents are then asked, “What is this person’s race?” for all persons in their household. Thus, both Hispanics and non-Hispanics self-report their race.
  3. Origin is self-reported and is defined by the Census Bureau as ancestry, lineage, heritage, nationality group or country of birth. For example, people of Mexican origin may be either born in Mexico or of Mexican origin.