NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 2, 2007

Today's poverty rate is hardly lower than it was in 1968.  But a closer look at the experience of one group, Hispanics, tells a very different story, says Douglas J. Besharov, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Hispanics are enjoying substantial economic progress:

  • The Hispanic poverty rate has dropped by a third from its high 12 years ago, falling from 30.7 percent in 1994 to 20.6 percent in 2006.
  • Between 1994 and 2006, median Hispanic household income rose 20 percent, from about $31,500 a year in 2006 dollars to about $37,800 a year.
  • The median income of Hispanic individuals rose 32 percent, to about $20,500 from about $15,500.

One explanation for this economic progress is increased education:

  • From 1994 to 2005, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics who graduated from high school or obtained a general equivalency diploma rose to about 66 percent from about 56 percent.
  • About 25 percent are now enrolled in college, up from about 19 percent in 1994.

The income rises do not make Hispanics wealthy, of course, but they did allow about 70 percent of them to send remittances home last year, says Besharov.  According to the best estimate, the total sent was $45 billion -- $4 billion more than the entire amount distributed to Americans by the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Source: Douglas J. Besharov, "The Rio Grande Rises," New York Times, October 1, 2007.

For text: 


Browse more articles on Government Issues