December 20, 2017

Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations as Immigrant Connections Fall Away

Methodology

The analysis in this report is based on two Pew Research Center national surveys that explored attitudes and experiences about Hispanic identity among two, mutually exclusive populations. The first survey, the 2015 National Survey of Latinos, was conducted from Oct. 21 through Nov. 30, 2015, in English and Spanish, and explored the attitudes and experiences of a nationally representative sample of 1,500 adults who self-identify as Hispanic. The second is a first of its kind national survey of 401 U.S. adults who indicated they had Hispanic ancestry (in the form of parents, grandparents or other relatives) but did not consider themselves Hispanic. It was conducted in English and Spanish from Nov. 11, 2015 through Feb. 7, 2016, though all respondents chose to take the survey in English. Both surveys were conducted by SSRS, an independent research company, for Pew Research Center. Together, these two surveys provide a look at the identity experiences and views of U.S. adults who say they have Hispanic ancestry.

Defining Hispanic ancestry

For the purposes of this report, Americans of Hispanic ancestry are made up of two groups. The first are those who self-identify as Hispanic when asked about their Hispanic identity. The second is Americans who self-identify as non-Hispanic but also say they have a Hispanic parent or Hispanic grandparent. Together, these two groups represent the U.S. adult population that self-reports Hispanic ancestry and is the universe used throughout this report.

U.S. adults with Hispanic ancestry are identified through a series of questions asked on both of the surveys used in this report.

The survey of self-identified Hispanics used the following screening questions:

The survey of self-identified non-Hispanics with Hispanic ancestry used the following screening questions to determine Hispanic ancestry:

Combining the two surveys

Some analyses in this report relied on combining data from both surveys. This was done by merging the two data files and adjusting the weights to that the two groups were proportional to their share of the total population. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, self-identified Hispanics make up 16% of the nation’s non-institutionalized adult population, or account for 37.8 million adults. The share that do not identify as Hispanic, but say they have a Hispanic parent or grandparent was estimated to be just under 2% of all U.S. adults8, or 4.9 million. Consequently, the weights were scaled so that individuals who self-identify as Hispanic made up 89% of the combined sample and those who do not identify as Hispanics but say they have Hispanic ancestry made up 11%.

The 2015 National Survey of Latinos

Results for this study are partially based on telephone interviews conducted by SSRS for Pew Research Center among a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Latino respondents ages 18 and older. It was conducted on cellular and landline telephones from Oct. 21 through Nov. 30, 2015.

For the full sample, a total of 705 respondents were U.S. born (including Puerto Rico), and 795 were foreign born (excluding Puerto Rico). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

For this survey, SSRS used a staff of bilingual English- and Spanish-speaking interviewers who, when contacting a household, were able to offer respondents the option of completing the survey in Spanish or English. A total of 679 respondents (45%) were surveyed in Spanish, and 821 respondents (55%) were interviewed in English. Any person ages 18 or older who said they were of Latino origin or descent was eligible to complete the survey.

To ensure the highest possible coverage of the eligible population, the study employed a dual-frame landline/cellular telephone design. The sample consisted of a landline sampling frame (yielding 449 completed interviews) and a cellphone sampling frame (1,051 interviews).9 Both the landline and cellphone sampling frames used a stratified sampling design, oversampling areas with higher densities of Latino residents. Overall the study employed six strata. Landline and cellphone samples were provided by Marketing Systems Group (MSG).

2015 National Survey of Latinos details

Margin of error
Sample size 95% confidence level
 Total Latinos 1,500  +/- 3.3% points
 U.S. born (incl. PR) 705  +/- 4.8% points
 Foreign born (excl. PR) 795  +/- 4.4% points
Second generation 369  +/- 6.6% points
Third or higher generation 247  +/- 8.4% points

Pew Research Center

For the landline sampling frame, the sample was compared with InfoUSA and Experian landline household databases, and phone numbers associated with households that included persons with known Latino surnames were subdivided into a surname stratum. The remaining, unmatched and unlisted landline sample was used to generate a stratum with a high incidence of Latinos, based upon the share of Latinos in the sample telephone exchange.

It is important to note that the existence of a surname stratum does not mean the survey was exclusively a surname sample design. The sample is random digit dial (RDD), with the randomly selected telephone numbers divided by whether or not they were found to be associated with a Spanish surname. This was done to ease administration by allowing for more effective assignment of interviewers and labor hours, as well as increase the efficiency of the sample.

MSG’s GENESYS sample generation system was used to generate cell phone sample, which was divided into High and Medium strata, based upon the share of Latinos in the sample telephone area code.

Samples for the low-incidence landline and low-incidence cell strata were drawn from previously interviewed respondents in SSRS’s weekly dual-frame Excel omnibus survey. Respondents who indicated they were Latino on the omnibus survey were eligible to be re-contacted for the present survey. Altogether, a total of 293 previously interviewed respondents were included in this sample.

A multi-stage weighting procedure was used to ensure an accurate representation of the national Hispanic population.

Survey of self-identified non-Hispanics with self-reported Hispanic ancestry

Results for this study are also based on telephone interviews conducted by SSRS for Pew Research Center, among a nationally representative sample of 401 respondents ages 18 and older who do not identify as Latino or Hispanic, but report having Hispanic, Latino, Latin American or Spanish ancestry or heritage (“self-identified non-Hispanics”). The interviews were conducted in English on cellular and landline telephones from Nov. 11, 2015, through Feb. 7, 2016. (Respondents were offered the opportunity to complete the survey in Spanish, but all surveys were completed in English.)

For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.

This sample of “self-identified non-Hispanics” (i.e., they did not self-identify as Hispanic or Latino, but identified a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent as having Hispanic, Latino, Spanish or Latin American heritage or ancestry), is a very low incidence population. In order to collect an adequate number of interviews to allow for analysis of this group, SSRS used their Excel Omnibus Survey (OS) – a dual-frame survey offered in English and Spanish which they conduct on a weekly basis. Every week, the OS produces a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 and older.

During the field period, whenever a respondent on the OS was determined to be 18 years or older, and a “self-identified non-Hispanic” that respondent was administered the module of questions which are analyzed in this report. The analytical sample is comprised of all of the “self-identified non-Hispanic” respondents who were compiled over multiple weeks of the OS.

For the OS, SSRS used a staff of bilingual interviewers who, when contacting a household, were able to offer respondents the option of completing the survey in Spanish or English. However, all 401 “self-identified non-Hispanic” respondents opted to complete the survey in English.

The OS employs a dual-frame landline/cellular telephone design. It includes a fully-replicated, single-stage, random digit dialing sample of landline telephone households, as well as randomly generated cell numbers. The landline sampling frame yielded 150 completed “self-identified non-Hispanic” interviews, and the cell phone sampling frame yielded 251 interviews.

There are no known reliable population estimates for the “self-identified non-Hispanic” population, as it is defined in this survey. As such, SSRS developed a self-weighted sample technique in which the full population of the OS was first weighted to be nationally representative, and then only those respondents who qualified as “self-identified non-Hispanics” were retained for analysis.

First, in order to create the nationally-representative sample of the full population, SSRS implemented the following procedures:

Then, those 401 respondents from that nationally representative sample who did not identify as Hispanic or Latino, despite having a Hispanic ancestor were retained for analysis.

Pew Research Center undertakes all polling activity, including calls to mobile telephone numbers, in compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and other applicable laws.

Pew Research Center is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization and a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.

  1. The share of all adults who say they have Hispanic ancestry but do not self-identify was estimated using all of the cases that were screened for the survey regardless of whether or not they were eventually determined to be eligible.
  2. According to calculations by the National Center for Health Statistics National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), from January to June 2015, 59% of Hispanic adults were living in wireless-only households and 15% were in wireless-mostly households (Blumberg and Luke, 2015).