U.S. Hispanic Population Is Booming

Recent Census data show roughly one in four children under the age of 10 are Hispanic.

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In recent decades, the U.S. population as a whole has grown steadily, but the size of the Hispanic segment in particular has ballooned. The Hispanic population of the United States now stands at nearly 50 million, more than double its size in 1990. Recent census figures shed light on this trend, showing that Hispanic children are a driving factor in that recent growth, accounting for roughly one in four children under the age of 10 in the United States.

The numbers provide U.S. population estimates, broken down by age and some racial and ethnic categories. The figures are organized in series that range from low to high estimates, but by any count they show a young and expanding Hispanic population, evidenced by a Hispanic youth population whose relative size significantly exceeds the proportion of the total population made up by Hispanics. Middle estimates say that 20 percent of U.S. residents between the ages of 10 and 20 are Hispanic, along with over 25 percent under the age of 10.

When compared to Hispanics' 15.8 percent share of the U.S. population, those figures show a burgeoning Hispanic youth population that is sure to contribute in the future to the already booming Hispanic-American community. The Hispanic proportion of the U.S. population has climbed quickly, up from 12.5 percent in 2000, 9 percent in 1990, and 6.4 percent in 1980.

The Census Bureau formulated these estimates by using administrative records, like documentation of births, deaths, immigration, and emigration. And though there is of course significant Hispanic migration to the U.S., Hispanic births in large part account for the uptick in Latino children. The Census Bureau earlier this year reported that for every nine births among Hispanics there was one death, compared to a roughly one-to-one ratio among whites.

Liany Elba Arroyo, associate director of the Education and Children's Policy Project at the National Council on La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization, says that the uptick in Hispanic children is itself a result of a young Hispanic-American population. "The Latino community is younger, our median age is younger than the population as a whole, by almost ten years. We have a population that is in their prime child-bearing years," says Arroyo, adding that cultural proclivities also contribute to this growth. "Generally, Latino families are larger families."

But Arroyo is optimistic that fresh evidence of high Hispanic birth rates will not lead to further nationwide argument over "anchor babies," a term that some immigration-rights opponents use to describe children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants. "While it may surface again, we would expect that cooler heads would prevail, and that people would look at this in a pragmatic manner," says Arroyo, citing the fact that nearly half of all Hispanic children in the U.S. are second-generation residents, and 42 percent are third-generation-or-higher residents.

These new Census Bureau figures are not results of the 2010 decennial Census, but are rather the result of "demographic analysis," one of the Census Bureau's methods of evaluating the quality of census results. "The 2010 Census provides the official population count, but demographic analysis provides an honest presentation of alternative estimates," explains U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.

Official 2010 Census state population counts will be released on or before December 31, 2010, with redistricting data to be released in February or March of 2011.