Which Hispanics identify as white?

By Razib Khan | October 20, 2011 1:31 am

 

I wanted to clarify a few issues with the Census’ American Community Survey. These data come from the interval of 2006-2008, and they allowed me to query the proportional of various Latino/Hispanic groups who identified as white. I knew in the aggregate that the majority of America’s Latinos identified as white, but I was curious about two things:

1) The variation in white identification by group (by national origin)

2) The variation in white identification of Mexican Americans by selected states

Results below. There are stories in these data….

White Black Other race White and black White & Native American
300: Cuban 87.3 3.5 8.6 0.5 0.1
420: Argentinean 86.3 0.3 13.2 0.1 0.2
450: Spaniard 80.5 1.3 15.5 0.6 2.1
427: Uruguayan 79.3 0.1 20.3 0.3 0
422: Chilean 77.3 0.6 21.5 0.2 0.4
428: Venezuelan 77.1 2 19.8 0.9 0.3
423: Colombian 69.7 1.7 27.7 0.7 0.2
425: Paraguayan 68.4 0.1 31.1 0 0.4
414: Nicaraguan 68 2 29.3 0.6 0.2
411: Costa Rican 65.4 5.7 28.1 0.5 0.2
421: Bolivian 63.4 0.5 35.3 0.3 0.4
100: Mexican 59.4 0.6 39.3 0.2 0.5
426: Peruvian 58.3 0.6 40.1 0.4 0.6
424: Ecuadorian 55.5 0.8 43.2 0.3 0.2
413: Honduran 53.8 4.2 41.1 0.6 0.2
200: Puerto Rican 53.1 6.1 39.1 1.5 0.2
412: Guatemalan 49.3 1 48.9 0.4 0.5
416: Salvadoran 48.9 0.8 49.4 0.7 0.2
415: Panamanian 41.3 27.6 28.3 2.5 0.4
460: Dominican 29.1 9.2 59.6 2 0.1
Mexican Americans by state
White Black Other race White and black White & Native American
63: Idaho 74.7 0.2 23.1 0.2 1.8
66: New Mexico 72.2 0.5 25.9 0.2 1.2
67: Utah 71.7 0.8 26.5 0.4 0.6
65: Nevada 71.2 0.6 27.5 0.5 0.3
68: Wyoming 70.2 0.5 25.6 0.3 3.4
49: Texas 68.6 0.4 30.7 0.2 0.2
62: Colorado 68.4 0.6 30 0.2 0.7
61: Arizona 67 0.4 32 0.2 0.4
72: Oregon 64 0.7 33.5 0.5 1.4
64: Montana 59.5 4.8 31.7 0.2 3.9
71: California 53.8 0.4 45.3 0.2 0.4
73: Washington 51 0.6 47.4 0.4 0.6
21: Illinois 45.2 0.5 53.8 0.2 0.3
12: New Jersey 43.1 1.3 54.5 0.6 0.4
13: New York 41.3 2.1 55.5 0.7 0.3
CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis, Demographics
MORE ABOUT: Hispanics, Latinos
  • http://www.isteve.blogspot Steve Sailer

    Cubans and Dominicans aren’t really on the same page over this, are they?

  • John Emerson

    It’s really remarkable that that many Spaniards, Chileans, Uruguayans or Argentineans identify as other than white.

    I don’t know the demographics of American Cubans, but Cuban Cubans are 35% other (23% mulatto). Was the exile mostly white, or is racial identification a political statement?

  • bob sykes

    I believe US law classifies Portuguese as Hispanic. Do you have any data for them?

    Also, considering the substantial stratification of Latin American societies by race (white on top, Indian and black on bottom), I would not be surprised if the white component in these tables is overstated.

    Then there is the issue of immigration. I was under the impression that the great majority of the immigrants from Mexico and Central America were Indian, so the fraction of white hispanics given for the Southwest (70%) seems high.

  • John Emerson

    Immigrants from C. America and Mexico go through the SW, obviously, but most of them don’t end up there. There have been Hispanics in the SW since about 1600, and many of them identify as Spanish and white rather than as Mexican. Some or many of them claim, rightly or wrongly, that what is now the American SW was not really under the control of independent Mexico (founded 1821) at the time of the Mexican-American war (1846).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I don’t know the demographics of American Cubans, but Cuban Cubans are 35% other (23% mulatto). Was the exile mostly white, or is racial identification a political statement?

    yes, they were mostly white.

    I believe US law classifies Portuguese as Hispanic. Do you have any data for them?

    no. i don’t think it does. this is a major confusion, because the intent was to throw all latin americans into one category. mistakenly excluded brazilians.

    I was under the impression that the great majority of the immigrants from Mexico and Central America were Indian, so the fraction of white hispanics given for the Southwest (70%) seems high.

    this is patently false. when was the last time you were asked to press ’2′ for some indigeneous language? indian status is defined by adherence to specific cultural markers (e.g., spanish not first language). then again, most people who say ‘white’ have obvious non-white ancestry. even many white cubans, who look totally white, have non-white ancestry (in fact, so do argentineans).

  • Handle

    @Steve Sailer:

    With regards Cuba vs. DR., let’s compare the census ACS data above with Wikipedia’s ethnic demographics numbers. I’ll use both absolute difference and “normalized” (absolute / Wik).

    %White, Black, Other
    WIK CUBA: 65, 10, 25
    ACS CUBA: 87, 4, 9
    Difference: +22, -6, -16
    Normalized: +34, -60, -64

    WIK DR: 16, 11, 73
    ACS DR: 29, 9, 62
    Difference: +13, -2, -11
    Normalized: +81, -18, -15

    I admit I have no basis to assume an ethnic-distributional equivalence between native-national and US-immigrant populations (in fact I don’t think it’s true and that differential immigration tendencies between ethnic groups may well account for much of the disparity), but if we do, it looks like Cuban blacks and “others” are much more likely to identify as “White” than folks from the DR.

    In fact, what sticks out at me is how close the normalized difference numbers are for black and other in the same country and how that number is almost identical to that country’s percentage of whites

    Compare:
    Wik %Whites, Black Normalized Difference, Other Normalized Difference:

    CUBA: 65, -60, -64
    DR: 16, -18, -15

    In countries with a lot of ethnic mixing, I think this is what we would expect statistically. Maybe they’re not on different pages after all.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    There have been Hispanics in the SW since about 1600, and many of them identify as Spanish and white rather than as Mexican.

    i think this is changing though. there’s a strong push toward ‘colorization’ of latinos. this explains the % of ‘non-white’ spaniards. the social value in being white is now less than it was. btw, ken salazar’s family was one of the pre-mexican war hispanos.

  • Karl Zimmerman

    Overall not surprising. There are an unusually large amount of black Panamanians though. I know Panama has a pretty large black population (15%). Still, a large proportion of the population are quite recent historically speaking, descendents of West Indies migrants who came in during the construction of the Panama Canal. My understanding is they still mostly use English among themselves. I would think that if they migrated to the U.S., they wouldn’t identify as Hispanics.

  • Jason Malloy

    Why do so many Spaniards identify as non-white?

  • RKU

    I’d strongly suspect that much of this data is also time- and event-dependent.

    For example, I think I remember seeing that the “white” identification of CA Hispanics dropped something like 30 points during the Immigration Wars of the early 1990s, though it seems to have now substantially recovered.

  • pconroy

    @9,
    Are these Spaniards from Spain, or from New Mexico?

    If the former then I’d suspect it has something to do with the Canaries and the huge illegal immigration issue Spain has with illegal sub-saharans coming there?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #11, 90% of self-described spaniards born in spain identified as white.

  • Nick

    Interesting to see big differences in white identification by state. Is it just me, or are Mexicans from Republican-leaning states more likely to identify as white than Mexicans from Democrat-leaning ones? Or perhaps it’s a geographical thing? Anybody know what’s going on here?

  • syon

    Interesting. My mother is from Mexico, and she has always identified as White. Of course, since she is of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, she is probably a special case.

    RE: the benefits of being non-White,

    A lot of my friends and relatives suggested that I put myself down as Hispanic/Latino/Chicano on my university applications, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

  • syon

    Razib:”i think this is changing though. there’s a strong push toward ‘colorization’ of latinos. this explains the % of ‘non-white’ spaniards. the social value in being white is now less than it was. btw, ken salazar’s family was one of the pre-mexican war hispanos.”

    Razib, what impact do you think that this “racialization” push will have on the long anticipated demographic transformation of the USA into a majority non-White country? In the past , I recall you making some observations about how most demographic predictions failed to account for the number of Hispanics/Latinos who identify as White. Do you think that the number of Hispanics/Latinos who identify as White is going to rapidly decline (cf the percentage of Spaniards who claim to be “non-White” )?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    . Do you think that the number of Hispanics/Latinos who identify as White is going to rapidly decline

    i don’t think so. the main issue is the relatively high intermarriage rate with non-hispanic whites. at some point the proportion of mixed ppl will probably rise enough among ‘latinos’ that people will have to admit that putting a physically european looking person into the ‘non-white’ category is ridiculous. the more numerous these people are, the more farcical the categorizations are going to become, and the more in your face it will all be. the canadian term ‘visible minority’ makes a lot more pragmatic sense, and we’ll probably equilibrate in that direction. it all depends of course :-)

  • Onur

    I think in the not so distant future whole-genome genetic tests will be free and routine for everyone and people will be officially racially classified only based on their whole-genome genetic test results.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #17, racial identity is at least, if not more, a matter of phenetics than genetics. there’s enough variation in mixed-race ancestry people to make estimates based on whole genomes rather dicey.

  • http://jeffwheelwright.com Jeff

    @Razib: I don’t think the non-white Spaniards are implying they want to be colorized. These people are New Mexico/Colorado Hispanos, not Hispanics. Hispano is a category indicating their older lineage in America. If a minority of Hispanos checks the “other race” checkbox on the Census form, it’s a nod to their Native American ancestry, but when push comes to shove, they think white. My new book, if I may promote it here, tells this story among others. See: jeffwheelwright.com

  • Onur

    there’s enough variation in mixed-race ancestry people to make estimates based on whole genomes rather dicey.

    On that issue, all we need to do is to distinguish between racially pre-1492 types and racially mixes (in a non-trivial degree) of pre-1492 types. Even today’s SNP-based tests easily do that work. As for pre-1492 mixed-race people (e.g., Central Asians, West Siberians, Horn Africans), they too are easily distinguished with SNP-based tests from racially pure or almost pure people.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    I don’t think the non-white Spaniards are implying they want to be colorized

    i was talking about spaniards from spain of late. that’s why i narrowed the selection in follow up comments (10% still say they’re non-white).

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot Steve Sailer

    Nick says: “Is it just me, or are Mexicans from Republican-leaning states more likely to identify as white than Mexicans from Democrat-leaning ones?”

    Yup. Good call. Eyeballing it, I’d say the correlation is over 0.5.

  • Luciano

    It’s possible that most people who migrate to US from Latin America are those who identify themselves as white. Actually, most people I see in Brazil who express desire to emigrate to US are white skinned people, not the poorer black and caboclo types.

    In Latin America class structure, whites get on top and some resent much of living in a non white society. Therefore, they seem to want to migrate to find their “peers” in US and Europe. And I guess there’s much mating with local whites, since this is the sex game that is played in Latin America: You move up the social ladder if you mate whites and your kids are whiter.

    As one can imagine, this is a very aggressive sex game and I guess it accounts for much of Latinos’ fame for beeing “hot”: the sexual stakes here are higher than in ethnically homogenous societies. Then, maybe the “white” latino migration to US and Europe may be just a continuation of the “mate whiter” game that is played in Latin American societies.

  • Onur

    It’s possible that most people who migrate to US from Latin America are those who identify themselves as white…

    That may be the case in South America. But is that the case in Mexico? I don’t think so.

  • Luciano

    Yep. I agree with you, Onur.

  • Onur

    i was talking about spaniards from spain of late. that’s why i narrowed the selection in follow up comments (10% still say they’re non-white).

    I think Spaniards who classify themselves as non-White are mostly if not wholly from Spaniards who wrongly suppose that the White category is about skin tone rather than the Caucasoid race.

  • Charles Nydorf

    The US has one classification system and other countries have others. What we are witnessing is the efforts of people to map categories from their country’s system onto US categories. Its a good cultural experiment. I would like to see some interpretations from readers who come from the countries in question.

  • Insightful

    from Onur: …all we need to do is to distinguish between racially pre-1492 types and racially mixes (in a non-trivial degree) of pre-1492 types. Even today’s SNP-based tests easily do that work. As for pre-1492 mixed-race people (e.g., Central Asians, West Siberians, Horn Africans), they too are easily distinguished with SNP-based tests from racially pure or almost pure people.

    Onur makes it sound like a ‘piece of cake’, totally ignores social/cultural factors (i.e. Obama identifies as black notwithstanding a SNP-based test, etc. etc.)

  • Onur

    Insightful, I am not talking about social racial classifications but about official ones. Even today there is discord between official and social racial classifications. My future scenario will bring internal consistency to official racial classifications irrespective of how social racial classifications take shape.

  • Miguel Madeira

    A thing that could explain the non-white spaniards is the myth that runs in Portugal and Spain saying that, in US, Portugueses and Spaniards are not considered white; because that, perhaps some Spaniards will choose “other race” simply because they think that Americans don’t consider them white.

    An example: some years ago I reposted this your post [http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2008/11/europe-is-white-thats-why-they-wont-have-a-barack-obama-soon/] in my blog, and received comments like «A Europa tem dois estados onde os respectivos chefes não são “White” (Na definição americana), Portugal e Espanha» [«Europe has two states where the Chiefs are not "White" (in the American definition), Portugal and Spain»] .

  • ackbark

    Nick says: “Is it just me, or are Mexicans from Republican-leaning states more likely to identify as white than Mexicans from Democrat-leaning ones?”

    Those are also all Western and Southwestern states that have had Mexican population since before the United States existed.

  • Onur

    A thing that could explain the non-white spaniards is the myth that runs in Portugal and Spain saying that, in US, Portugueses and Spaniards are not considered white; because that, perhaps some Spaniards will choose “other race” simply because they think that Americans don’t consider them white.

    Maybe because some Iberians and/or some Americans mistakenly think that the Hispanic category includes Spaniards and Portuguese.

  • Onur

    Maybe because some Iberians and/or some Americans mistakenly think that the Hispanic category includes Spaniards and Portuguese.

    There is also the issue of complexion differences.

  • Joisey

    No one noted more Spaniards consider themselves “White & Native American” (2.1%) than any of the nations with Mestizo populations. I found that humorous. I knew someone of Peruvian ancestry who was born in Spain. His parents immigrated to the US but I doubt that is common or that he would refer to himself as a Spaniard. It never crossed my mind to ask him.

  • Latifundiário

    Only ravaged and poor people used to migrate to the United States (and that before the deep current crisis). Why would someone abandon your dear Ancestral history and tradition ? Rich and upper middle class Brazilians usually are White or their Grandsons will be and they are among the richest people in the world due to the concentration of wealth and the Top Brazilians usually don’t consider to be Hispanics or Latinos (in the US definition) when they are the most successful Portuguese Catholic European ethnic people in the world. And in my opinion the Brazilian women are far more beautiful due to the gradients of the Brazilian miscegenation (intra-European and/or sometimes with tiny exotic, gracious, deliciously stylish flavours) in the upper classes

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Only ravaged and poor people used to migrate to the United States (and that before the deep current crisis)

    this is false. stop making things up.

  • ElamBend

    Razib
    When you say that Indian identification is cultural, you mean in terms of this kind of survey, right?

    There are plenty of people here in Chicago who could have posed for the ancient mess american statues at the Art Institute.

    Despite the Mexican national myth of Meztizo, I have been under the impression that a significant portion of the country was still genetically indigenous. Is this not true?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    When you say that Indian identification is cultural, you mean in terms of this kind of survey, right?

    yes.

    Despite the Mexican national myth of Meztizo, I have been under the impression that a significant portion of the country was still genetically indigenous. Is this not true

    yes. a little over 50% in aggregate probably (the ‘pure indigenous’ are a minority, not not a trivial one).

  • Ann

    I’m fascinated by the very high percentage of “other.” Is this presumably mostly people thinking of Hispanic as a race? I do know a individuals from Guatemala and Peru who identify as Asian, but surely that’s not what this is really about.

  • Anthony

    Part of the results seems to be that the U.S. government considers “native American” to be descendants of native Americans who lived in the U.S. or Canada. Descendants of native Americans who lived in Mexico or points south are not “native Americans” in the way the Census (or the BIA) define it. So a person who is mostly Mayan given that survey has to wonder “am I white, black, or other?” They’re obviously not black, and they’re not “American Indian” or “Native American” the way los estadounidienses define it, so many probably just say “white” because that sounds better than “other”.

    Unfortunately, there’s no good term for “native American from south of the Rio Grande”, and the U.S. Government wants to maintain that distinction, as at least some of the problems that Native Americans in the U.S. have *are* the fault of the U.S. Government. Though I wonder what results we’d see if “mestizo” was a race option on those surveys.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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