Hispanics Optimistic About Future

CBS News/New York Times poll graphic CBS/AP

Hispanics in the U.S. hold both a strong desire to preserve their traditional culture and values, and optimism about their children's opportunities in America.

There are important differences between Hispanics born in the U.S. and those who have immigrated: those born outside the U.S. or in Puerto Rico speak mainly Spanish, follow more news from Latin America, and preserve the traditions of their native country while also adopting U.S. culture. Yet they also say that their own lives are now improved, and feel closer now to the United States than they do to their native country. Succeeding generations of Hispanics -- those born in the U.S. -- speak English, watch English-language media, and follow U.S. news and events.

Most Hispanics say they have as good a chance or better to get ahead as do other immigrant groups, and -- though they are still more likely than non-Hispanics to fear unequal treatment from law enforcement -- most say they have not faced discrimination.

UPWARD MOBILITY AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
Hispanics -- and especially Hispanic immigrants -- see themselves as part of a continuum of upward mobility. 75 percent of Hispanics think their own opportunities are better than those of their parents, and 75 percent think the future for the next generation of their family will be better than their own lives are today. Views among Hispanics are much more positive than they are among non-Hispanics, especially where their children are concerned.

THINK OPPORTUNITIES/FUTURE IS BETTER
For Themselves:
Hispanics
75%
Non-Hispanics
56%

For Their Children:
Hispanics
75%
Non-Hispanics
39%

But Hispanic immigrants are especially likely to be optimistic about the opportunities for the second generation. Among Hispanic immigrants (including those born in Puerto Rico), 83 percent think the future for the next generation of their family will be even better than it is for them.

HISPANICS: THINK OPPORTUNITIES/FUTURE IS BETTER
(Among those born in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S.)
For themselves 78%
For their children 83%

For some Hispanics there may be limitations to that dream, however: 60 percent of Hispanics think it is still possible to start out poor in this country and become rich, but 72 percent of non-Hispanics think that is possible.

POSSIBLE TO START POOR AND BECOME RICH IN U.S.?
Yes
Hispanics
60%
Non-Hispanics
72%

No
Hispanics
36%
Non-Hispanics
26%

Hispanic immigrants are a little less likely than Hispanics in general to believe people can start out poor but end up rich in the U.S.: 54 percent of Hispanics born in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S. think it is possible to become rich in the U.S.

Hispanics do not view their ethnicity as an impediment to success, and in fact a third think their opportunities for success in America are better than they are for people from other ethnic backgrounds. 48 percent of Hispanics think they have the same chance to get ahead in America as other ethnic groups, and 15 percent think they have a worse chance.

HISPANICS: CHANCE OF GETTING AHEAD IN U.S.
Better 33%
Worse 15%
Same 48%

Hispanics are a bit more optimistic than non-Hispanics about the amount of say that they can have in government. A majority of Hispanics -- 55 percent -- says that people like themselves can have either some or a great deal of say in the government. By contrast, just 41 percent of non-Hispanics believe this, and a majority of non-Hispanics thinks they can not have much say at all. And this sentiment among Hispanics is not just spurred by being able to vote: Hispanics registered to vote were not more likely to say they had influence than were Hispanics as a whole.

HOW MUCH SAY CAN YOU HAVE IN GOVERNMENT?
A good deal
Hispanics
17%
Non-Hispanics
9%

Some
Hispanics
38%
Non-Hispanics
32%

Not much
Hispanics
40%
Non-Hispanics
58%

LIFE IN THE U.S.
Hispanic immigrants (those born outside the U.S. or in Puerto Rico) volunteer the economic and employment opportunities as the number one way in which life in the U.S. is better, mentioned by 66 percent. 9 percent volunteer freedom, 6 percent mention the culture and lifestyle and another 6 percent mention education.

HISPANICS: WHAT'S BETTER ABOUT LIVING IN U.S.
(Among foreign-born Hispanics)
Economic/job opportunities 66%
Freedom/liberty 9%
Culture/lifestyle 6%
Education 6%

When asked what's worse about living in the United States, one in five foreign-born Hispanics says "nothing." Eight percent mention separation from their family and friends, and 5 percent mention each of the following: unfair pay; crime, drugs and violence; and U.S. cultural values.

HISPANICS: WHAT'S WORSE ABOUT LIVING IN U.S.
(Among foreign-born Hispanics)
Separation from family/friends 8%
Unfair pay 5%
Crime, drugs, violence 5%
Cultural values 5%
Nothing 16%

Only 1 percent volunteer that missing their homeland is worse about being in the U.S., and 3 percent cite language difficulties.

Although American cultural values are cited as one of the negative aspects of life in the U.S., foreign-born Hispanics do not think their children will suffer from poor morals as a result of being raised in the United States. 41 percent of Hispanic immigrants think their children's moral values will be better than theirs, and an additional 46 percent think their morals will be the same. Less than one in ten Hispanic immigrants see their children's morals as worse. Among Hispanics overall, 35 percent think their children's moral values will be better, and 49 percent think they will be the same as theirs.

DISCRIMINATION
Yet another possible hurdle for Hispanics in the U.S. is dealing with discrimination. 36 percent of Hispanics overall say they have felt discriminated against at some point. While this is much lower than the 73 percent of non-Hispanic blacks who report they have been discriminated against, it is higher than the incidence of discrimination experienced by non-Hispanic whites.

EVER BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST?
Yes
Hispanics
36%
Non-Hispanic Blacks
73%
Non-Hispanic Whites
21%

No
Hispanics
64%
Non-Hispanic Blacks
25%
Non-Hispanic Whites
78%

Most commonly, Hispanics report they were questioned by the police or were victims of racial profiling.

HISPANICS: HOW DISCRIMINATED AGAINST?
(Among those discriminated against)
Questioned by police/racial profiling/driving 19%
Denied employment 16%
Discriminated in general 14%
Unequal treatment in general12%

28 percent of Hispanics think that if they had some trouble with the police (a traffic violation or other minor incident) they would be given a harder time than other people. 58 percent think they would be treated the same, compared to 76 percent of non-Hispanics.

EXPECTED TREATMENT IF HAD TROUBLE WITH POLICE
Given harder time
Hispanics
28%
Non-Hispanics
12%

Same as other people
Hispanics
58%
Non-Hispanics
76%

Better
Hispanics
7%
Non-Hispanics
10%

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH OR SPANISH?
Hispanics are fairly evenly divided between those that use mostly English at home and those that speak mostly Spanish. 23 percent speak predominantly English, and another 31 percent say they speak both languages equal amounts of time. 46 percent say they speak mostly Spanish or only Spanish in the home.

HISPANICS: LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME
Only or mostly English
Total
23%
U.S.-born
48%
Foreign-born
7%

Both Spanish and English equally
Total
31%
U.S.-born
44%
Foreign-born
23%

Mostly or only Spanish
Total
46%
U.S.-born
9%
Foreign-born
71%

Much of this depends on birthplace. Hispanics who were born in the U.S. are overwhelmingly more likely to speak English at home: half speak almost exclusively English. By contrast, 71 percent of those born outside the U.S. speak mostly or entirely in Spanish, and only 7 percent speak mostly or only English at home.

The younger generation of Hispanics in the U.S. is even more likely to converse only in English, and almost all of them speak English at least as much as they do Spanish. Among the Hispanics in the survey who have children under 18 at home, nearly half -- 47 percent -- reported that their kids speak mostly English or only English with their friends. Only 10 percent reported that their kids spoke mostly or exclusively Spanish with their friends.

The children of U.S.-born parents are very likely to speak English with their friends (71 percent speak entirely or mostly in English.) The children of foreign-born Hispanics are less likely to do so, but most of those children still speak at least as much English as Spanish with their friends.

HISPANICS: KIDS SPEAK ENGLISH OR SPANISH WITH FRIENDS?
Only/ mostly English
Total
47%
U.S.-born
71%
Foreign-born
34%

English and Spanish equally
Total
38%
U.S.-born
22%
Foreign-born
46%

Only/mostly Spanish
Total
10%
U.S.-born
0%
Foreign-born
15%

Whichever language they speak, most Hispanics are not looking for the government to provide more translations and services in Spanish than it already does. Almost half of Hispanics -- 48% percent -- think the government is putting the right amount of effort in providing services in Spanish, and just under one-quarter think the government is already providing too much effort in this regard.

GOVERNMENT EFFORTS TO PROVIDE SERVICES IN SPANISH ARE…
Too little
Hispanics
26%
Non-Hispanics
13%

Too much
Hispanics
23%
Non-Hispanics
30%

About right
Hispanics
48%
Non-Hispanics
42%

These sentiments were even the case among those who took the survey in Spanish -- a group that generally rated their own English proficiency as low. Nearly half of them described the government's efforts as about right, and just 21 percent said the government was making too little effort.

Non-Hispanics, however, were more likely to think that the government was doing too much to provide services in Spanish -- just under one-third of them said so.

In this CBS News/New York Times Poll, respondents were offered the chance to take the survey in either English or Spanish. Those who preferred Spanish said that their own proficiency in English was not very good: 55 percent of them said they did not speak English very well, and another 24 percent of them said they did not speak English at all. Only one-fifth rated themselves as speaking English very well or fluently.

HOW WELL DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?
(Among Hispanics taking survey in Spanish)
Fluently 5%
Fairly well 17%
Not very well 55%
Not at all 24%

TIES TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Assimilation in the U.S. has been a goal for generations of immigrants, but for Hispanics born in Puerto Rico or outside the U.S., there is an equally strong desire to stay in touch with their heritage. While 33 percent of foreign-born Hispanics say it is more important to them to adopt U.S. traditions and values, about as many -- 36 percent -- say it is more important to preserve their native traditions and values.

HISPANICS: WHICH CULTURAL TRADITIONS ARE MORE IMPORTANT?
(Among those born in Puerto Rico or outside U.S.)
Preserve native traditions/values 36%
Adopt U.S. traditions/values 33%
Both (vol.) 26%

This desire to preserve traditions is slightly higher than for Hispanics who were born in the U.S. but who identified another country besides the U.S. as their family's land of ancestry. 32 percent of them thought it was most important to preserve the traditions of that country, while 42 percent of them thought it was most important to adopt U.S. values.

The assimilation process begins with the first generation, as even foreign-born Hispanics find themselves identifying more with their new homeland than with their native country. Over six in ten Hispanics who were born outside the U.S. say they feel closer to the U.S. than to the country in which they were born.

HISPANICS: FEEL CLOSER TO…
(Among those born in Puerto Rico or outside U.S.)
The U.S. 63%
Country born in 22%

85 percent of foreign-born Hispanics took the survey in Spanish, which may help to explain the ties they feel to their native country.

77 percent of Hispanics report they have relatives living in other countries -- over three times as many non-Hispanics who say the same. And among those with relatives overseas, Hispanics are much more likely than non-Hispanics to send money to family members in other countries or Puerto Rico.

SEND MONEY TO FAMILY OVERSEAS
(Among those with family overseas)
Hispanics 47%
Non-Hispanics 5%

Even Hispanics who were born in the 50 United States have a strong attachment to the native country of their ancestors. About half of those Hispanics born in the U.S. say there is a country besides the United States they consider their family's native country -- double the number of non-Hispanics born in America who feel such a tie. 41 percent visit this country at least once a year. In fact, these U.S.-born Hispanics are more likely than Hispanic immigrants to visit their family's homeland.

Despite these ties, and although 93 percent of foreign-born Hispanics report they have relatives still living in their native country, most do not make many trips to visit. Nearly three in four foreign-born Hispanics visit less than once a year or never. That figure includes 41 percent who have never returned to their native country. Only 23 percent visit their native land once a year or more often.

VISITS TO NATIVE COUNTRY
At least once a year
U.S.-born Hispanics
41%
Foreign-born Hispanics
23%

Less than once a year
U.S.-born Hispanics
36%
Foreign-born Hispanics
33%

Never
U.S.-Hispanics
23%
Foreign-born Hispanics
41%

At least part of the explanation for the infrequent visits to their native country is that foreign-born Hispanics are probably less able to afford such trips. Among Hispanics born outside the U.S. or in Puerto Rico, those with the lowest incomes are also the least frequent travelers to their native countries -- about half of those with incomes of $30,000 or less have never returned to their homeland, and 57 percent of foreign-born Hispanics have annual incomes of less than $30,000.

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This poll was conducted among a random sample of 3,092 adults nationwide interviewed by telephone July 13-27, 2003. The sample includes 1,074 Hispanics and 2,008 non-Hispanics. Respondents were weighted to reflect the actual ethnic distribution of the U.S. population. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus two percentage points based on the entire sample. The sampling errors could be plus or minus four percentage points for the Hispanic sample, and plus or minus three percentage points for the sample of non-Hispanics. The sampling error could be plus or minus five percentage points for all Hispanics born in the U.S., and for Hispanics born outside the U.S. or in Puerto Rico. size>
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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