NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Latinos Change Over Generations

January 17, 2000

Attitudes and lifestyles of Latinos change as new generations are born and grow up in the U.S., according to a new survey conducted by the Washington Post, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. A representative sample of 2,417 first-, second- and third-generation Latino adults was polled for the survey last summer.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Seventy-three percent of first-generation Latinos reported that they spoke only Spanish or more Spanish at home -- which dropped to 17 percent among second-generation Latinos and only 1 percent among third-generation residents.
  • Twenty-seven percent of first generation respondents reported watching television in English or primarily in English -- rising to 68 percent by the second generation and 88 percent for the third generation.
  • Thirty-one percent of first-generation Latinos believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases -- rising to 65 percent by the third generation.
  • Eighty percent of the first generation think life will be better for their children than themselves -- dropping to 55 percent by the third generation.
  • Fifty-two percent of the first generation say the government in Washington will do what is right all or most of the time -- dropping to 27 percent by the third generation.

Over the generations a sense of fatalism fades -- with those believing that it doesn't do any good to plan for the future dropping from 46 percent in the first generation to 18 percent in the third.

Among all Latinos, 84 percent say it is very or somewhat important for them to blend into the larger society as in the melting pot analogy. Yet 89 percent of those who expressed an opinion say that it is very or somewhat important to retain their distinct cultures.

The survey found that few Latinos of any national background feel they share much in common with either whites or blacks.

Source: Amy Goldstein and Roberto Suro, "A Journey in Stages," Washington Post, January 16, 2000.


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