Press Release: New Studies Profile Problems Facing New York City Latinos

Four recent studies by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at the CUNY Graduate Center show that among New York City’s four major ethnic groups, Latinos rank:

Lowest in wage gain over the past five years (virtually none)
Lowest in percentage of students enrolled in private schools
Lowest in home ownership
Highest in birth rates

The studies were derived from census data by CLACLS’ Latino Data Project, which continues to mine 2000 census information and updated reports for insights into New York City’s Latino community.  In addition to comparing the Latino community with other major ethnic groupings, the studies also analyzed comparisons among the various Latino nationalities in the city. 

A summary of major findings from each of the four newly released studies follows.  The complete reports of these and other Latino Data Project studies can be found on CLACLS’ website at web.gc.cuny.edu/lastudies

New York Latinos Facing Wage Crisis
“Changes in Income Distribution Patterns, Wealth, and Poverty among New York City’s Racial/Ethnic Groups between 1999 and 2004”

Latinos in New York City experienced almost no increase in household or family income between 1999 and 2004 while Whites, African Americans, and Asians saw significant rises.

This study found that household income for Latinos increased only 0.4% between 1999 and 2004 in the City, while among African Americans it rose 7.1%; 9.8% among Asians; and 12.4% among White households. Additionally, among Latino families, income increased only 3.6% over the same period, while among African American, Asian, and White families incomes increased over 13%.
 
“Latinos were the poorest of the city’s major racial/ethnic groups in both years, with over 30% living in poverty,” said Laird W. Bergad, Professor of History and Director of the CLACLS.  “Nevertheless, we have also found a high degree of economic stratification among the Latino population, with over 25% of all households and families earning over $50,000 annually.”
 

Among Latino New Yorkers, Few Private School Students “Private and Public School Attendance Patterns among New York City’s Racial/Ethnic Groups and Latino Nationalities in 2000”


Fewer Latino children attend private school in New York City than any other ethnic/racial group.

This study found that in 2000 only 16% of New York City’s Latino student population was enrolled in private educational institutions. The corresponding rate for African Americans was 19% while 25% of all Asian and 50% of all White students in the City attended private schools. The figures are for all levels, including pre-school through graduate school. When just considering grades K-12, the comparisons are 44% of white students, 12% of African Americans, 11% of Asians and 11% of Hispanics enrolled in private schools.

“We were very surprised to find so few Latino kids in private schools, especially given the work done by the schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York in the Latino community,” said Laird W. Bergad, Professor of History and Director of the CLACLS.  “It’s clear from the data that the Latino community is putting the education of children in the hands of public school officials.”
 
Bergad also noted that the data is a signal to public school administrators that the issues facing Latino students are critical to the success of the public school system at large.  “Administrators need to realize that the issues of bilingual education and high drop-out rates—issues that have historically been linked to the Latino community—are problems that have an impact not just on one group of students but on the system as a whole.  Latino kids are becoming the heart and soul of the New York City public schools and it seems from this data that they are in the system for the long-haul,” Bergad said.

Among the Latino nationalities, Peruvians, Cubans, and Colombians had the highest rates of private school attendance while Mexicans, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans had the lowest.
 
“I think that the differences in private school attendance speak volumes about the differences in economic mobility between different Latino groups,” said Cecilia Salvatierra, a researcher on the study and a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

In the Aftermath of National Housing Boom,
Latinos in
New York City Still Lag
“Home Ownership Rates among New York City’s Racial/Ethnic Groups and Latino Nationalities in 2000” 

Despite a national boom in home-ownership, Latinos in New York City are lagging far behind their fellow New Yorkers when it comes to owning a home.

This study found that in 2000 only 16% of New York City’s Latino population owned their homes.  The corresponding rate for African Americans was 31%, while 42% of all Asians and Whites in the City lived in their own homes.

“The data provides a contrast to arguments about increasing Latino home-ownership rates,” said Laird W. Bergad, Professor of History and Director of the CLACLS.  “In expensive urban housing markets such as New York, Latinos aren’t able to compete for housing.  It is a really difficult situation for many Latino families.  They are caught between increasing rents and the inability to purchase a home or apartment.”

Among the Latino nationalities, Peruvians, Cubans, and Colombians had the highest rates of home ownership with over 25% of each of these nationalities living in their own homes according to 2000 U.S. census data. Mexicans, Guatemalans, and Dominicans had the lowest home ownership rates among the Latino national groups.

“We need to do some additional work to see how Latinos have fared in this era of historically-low mortgage interest rates, but I suspect that we really won’t see much change in New York City where prices remain high,” said Laura Limonic, a researcher on the study and a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Birth Rates Among Latinas in New York
Highest of any Group in City
“Birth Rates among New York City’s Racial/Ethnic Groups
and Latino Nationalities in 2002”

Birth rates among New York City’s Latinas are rocketing past those of other racial/ethnic groups in the City.

“This data reveals that New York City is undergoing a rapid transformation not just because of immigration but also because of family-planning decisions in local neighborhoods,” said Laird W. Bergad, Professor of History and Director of the CLACLS.  “We are witnessing a fundamental shift in the demographic composition of the City.”

The study found that in 2002 Latina women of childbearing age gave birth to 63 children per thousand women. The corresponding rate for African American women was 53 per thousand and among White women it was 51 per thousand. The report also examines birth rates by different age groups. In the 15 to 29 year-old age categories, Latina women had extraordinarily higher birth rates compared with their African-American and White counterparts. 

Researchers also found that there were significant differences in birth rates with the Latino communities of the City.  Among the Latino nationalities Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Dominican women had the highest birth rates while Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Cuban women had the lowest. 

“While the birth rate among Latinas is higher than for any other group in the City, the differences within the Latino population show that length of residency in the United States does have an impact on lowering birth rates, even among Latinas,” said Victoria Stone a researcher on the study and a  Ph.D. student in Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Support for this research was provided by the Somos el Futuro Foundation and the City University of New York.

The Graduate Center is the City University of New York’s doctorate-granting institution.  The only consortium of its kind in the nation, the school draws its faculty of more than 1,700 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges.

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 4,000 students in more than 30 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.  The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program as well as a number of other university-wide academic programs, and offers a wide range of intellectual and cultural programs of interest to the general public.

Further information on The Graduate Center's programs and activities can be found on its website at: www.gc.cuny.edu.

Submitted on: JUN 1, 2006

Category: Press Room