June 19, 2013

Salvadorans may soon replace Cubans as third-largest U.S. Hispanic group

For more than 40 years, one rock-solid element of Hispanic demographics has been the relative ranking of the three largest Hispanic-origin groups: Mexicans have always been the largest by population, followed by Puerto Ricans and then Cubans.

But this may be changing.

According to Pew Research Center’s most recent estimate based on the 2011 American Community Survey, there were 1.89 million Cubans and 1.95 million Salvadorans living in the U.S. Statistically speaking, those two estimates are indistinguishable from each other, and it’s been that way since 2008.

Since 2007, however, the Salvadoran population’s growth rate has been about double that of the Cuban population (33% versus 17%). As a result, the Salvadoran population is now poised to overtake the Cuban population in the next few years. This reflects the relative youth of today’s Salvadoran population compared with their Cuban counterparts—median age is 29 versus 40. (For a breakdown of the demographic, economic and social characteristics of each group, see our Hispanic Origin profiles.)

So, in the not-too-distant future, the third largest Hispanic-origin group might be Salvadorans. And more change may be on the way: demographics and immigration patterns show the Dominican population is close behind–it has grown 27% since 2007, from 1.2 million to 1.53 million.

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics

  1. Photo of Mark Hugo Lopez

    is director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Ana Gonzalez-Barrera

    is a senior researcher focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. suarez2 years ago

    While lacking any scientific basis, but only from observation, one gets the impression in Texas that an important factor in the increase in Salvadoreans in the US is that illegals from that country continue to increase.

  2. Lisa Bella4 years ago

    Could you explain how you are defining each group? I’m curious to understand the age difference. For example, are the Salvadorans primarily new immigrants, which I think helps to explain the age difference. I believe most Cuban Americans are now 2nd and 3rd generation, and I believe there is limited emigration from Cuba to the US. So, naturally the Cuban population cannot grow much.

    Thank you,

    1. Mark Hugo Lopez4 years ago

      Each group is identified through self-reported Hispanic identity and origin. In the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (the primary data source for our analysis), respondents are first asked if they are Hispanic or Latino. If they say yes, they are then asked about their Hispanic origin-i.e. are they of Salvadoran origin or Cuban origin (or Mexican, Puerto Rican, Argentinean, Dominican, etc). Those who self-identify as Salvadoran and those who self-identify as Cuban are counted as Salvadoran or Cuban. Note that some are immigrants but some were born in the U.S. For example, among Cubans, 58% are foreign born. Among Salvadorans, 60% are foreign born. For more detail on each group, see our Salvadoran fact sheet pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispa… and our Cuban fact sheet pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispa…. Also, see our interactive graphic showing how these two groups compare to 12 other Hispanic origin groups in the U.S. pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispa….

  3. edwin4 years ago

    Orgulloso de der salvadorenio americano a mucha honra

  4. Vicky Rodriguez4 years ago

    I’m Dominican and I think this is wonderful! I had my first pupusa two days ago…Delicious!

  5. Roberto Candray4 years ago

    This is indeed not good news

    1. Daniel Alvarenga4 years ago

      excuse me?

    2. Fernando Ruelas4 years ago

      Why is that?

    3. Nancy Rosales4 years ago

      Explain yourself sir? BTW, I’m Salvadorian-American and it looks like we’re here to stay.

    4. Oscar Mañón4 years ago

      A ver Robertito donde quedó tu unidad latinoamericana? o es que ya te volviste como muchos latinos que se van para el gabacho y se creen mas gringos que el tío sam?
      Por favor abstente de comentarios inútiles como esos.

      1. T.4 years ago

        Gringos es considerado despectivo por los americanos. No olvidemos que esta gran nación, los EE.UU., está construido principalmente por extranjeros. We are all gringos in one way or another!