Understanding Hispanic Adult Cultural Identity in the United States

For Latinos, cultural identity is closely linked to their family’s country of origin. Moreover, for many, the U.S. is seen as a more prosperous place than the countries of their ancestors.

But not all Hispanics agree. Some are divided over whether strangers on the street would consider them typical Americans.

Hispanics in the U.S.

Hispanics and Latinos now represent two of the nation’s largest demographic groups. They include those who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino and those who say they have Hispanic ancestry but do not self-identify as such. They also comprise the country’s largest ethnic group among, non-Hispanic Americans.

Amid the growth of this population, a range of questions has emerged about how they see their place in the United States. The Center’s latest report in its American People series seeks to answer these questions by examining the different aspects of Hispanic and Latino identity, including perceptions of discrimination, relationships with the U.S. and ancestral roots, language use, and the role of acculturation.

In the past decade, Hispanics have expanded their presence in states nationwide. Their presence has been most significant in the South and Midwest, and their fastest growth rate has been in Texas.

Almost three-quarters of Hispanic immigrants feel very or somewhat connected to their country of origin. But connections decline with each generation, and only half of third-generation Hispanics say they feel very or somewhat related to their family’s country of origin. In comparison, nearly nine in ten U.S. adults who are non-Hispanic whites say they feel very or somewhat connected to the white national identity. Hispanics and Latinos are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to report that they have felt discriminated against because of their racial or ethnic background.

Hispanics in California

While personal experiences shape cultural identity, these experiences vary by demographic subgroups within the Hispanic population. For example, nativity and immigrant generation are linked to views about what terms Hispanics use to describe themselves. Two-thirds of the immigrant generation and 36% of those born in America say they most often use the name of their family’s country of origin to describe themselves.

In addition, acculturation is related to how Hispanics think about their relationship with the United States. Hispanics with more acculturation tend to have higher levels of U.S. citizenship and are more likely to be satisfied with their lives in the United States. However, they are less likely to identify as very proud of the United States and have lower levels of English proficiency than those with less acculturation. In addition, Hispanic adults play a pivotal role in various sectors, contributing their diverse perspectives and talents to enrich communities and drive progress in numerous fields.

In addition, acculturation is also linked to whether or not Hispanics prefer the term “Hispanic” over “Latino.” The Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation 2002 National Survey of Latinos reported that in California, where most Hispanics live, preference for “Hispanic” exceeds that of “Latino” by a 6-to-1 margin among those with a choice. Similarly, in Texas and Florida, like for “Hispanic” exceeds “Latino” by a similar margin. The survey was conducted in Spanish and English with a nationally representative sample of 4,213 adults 18 years and older.

Hispanics in Gen Z

As we move into Hispanic Heritage Month, we must recognize that Hispanic Gen Zers are a generation with unique cultural insights. While previous Hispanic generations often focused on assimilation with the general population, Gen Z Hispanics are more comfortable reclaiming their Latino identity and engaging with Spanish and bilingual content.

As a result, their perspectives on what it means to be Hispanic are more nuanced and reflective of the complexity of their heritage. Hispanic Gen Zers also value family above all else and are willing to work hard for financial success. However, this success is defined differently by the Hispanic community than by other ethnic communities, as it is more about creating a better economic future for their families than simply wealth accumulation for themselves.

In addition, Hispanic Gen Zers are less likely than Millennial Hispanics to be immigrants and more likely to live in predominantly Hispanic areas. They are also more likely to have a college degree and more likely to be working in the healthcare industry versus retail.

Hispanics in Gen Z also report that they are more likely to have experienced discrimination because of their Latino background than other generations. This is especially true among those who are immigrant Hispanics, with nearly half of the first-generation immigrant Hispanics reporting that they have experienced discrimination because of their Hispanic heritage.

Hispanics in Gen X

As the oldest Hispanic generation ages, their cultural identities are evolving. This group has a long journey of acculturation ahead of them, but they are also the first to be born in the United States, and they are rewriting the rules for how to define their ethnic identity and the role of culture in their lives.

Hispanic Gen Zers are more open to non-traditional family configurations. They are willing to work for a deeper connection with their heritage by choosing entertainment, food, music, and other cultural activities that honor their roots. They over-index all different demographics when it comes to connecting with brands that promote their heritage. They are more likely than any other segment to say that those relationships strongly influence their purchasing decisions.

Hispanics in Gen Z are the most racially diverse of all Hispanic generations, with 38% having fourth or higher generation (U.S.-born children of parents who were U.S. immigrants) ancestry. In contrast, nearly two-thirds of Hispanic Millennials were born in the United States, as were four-in-ten Hispanic Boomers and older adults. The share of Hispanics in this population born in the United States has decreased steadily over time, except for a slight uptick in the middle years. As the chart below shows, this has a direct impact on their experiences with stereotyping: For every unit increase in skin tone, Hispanics in Gen Z are twice as likely to report experiencing discrimination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *