June 29, 2016

Roughly half of Hispanics have experienced discrimination

About half of Hispanics in the U.S. (52%) say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity, according to a newly released Pew Research Center survey on race in America.

Hispanics' experience with discriminationHispanics’ experience with discrimination or being treated unfairly varies greatly by age. Among Hispanics ages 18 to 29, 65% say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity. By comparison, only 35% of Hispanics 50 and older say the same – a 30-percentage-point gap.

In addition, Hispanics born in the U.S. (62%) are more likely than immigrants (41%) to say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment. There are also differences by race. For example, 56% of nonwhite Hispanics say this has happened at some point in their lives, a higher share than that among white Hispanics (41%).

Hispanics are significantly less likely than blacks (71%) to say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment due to their race or ethnicity at some point in their lives, a gap that extends across most demographic subgroups, including gender and education. However, there is no difference among those ages 18 to 29. Some 65% of blacks in this age group, and an equal share of young Hispanics, say they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment.

By contrast, among non-Hispanic whites, only 30% say they have ever experienced discrimination or unfair treatment, a share that’s fairly consistent across different age groups, education levels and other subgroups.

Roughly six-in-ten Hispanics (58%) say race relations in the U.S. are generally bad, a similar share to blacks. But when it comes to the best approach to improving race relations, Hispanic views align more with those of whites. Among Hispanics and whites, more say people should focus on what different racial and ethnic groups have in common rather than what makes them unique. By contrast, blacks are split evenly on the issue.

For Latinos, concepts of identity and race are complex and varied. About one-in-four Hispanics in the U.S. identify as Afro-Latino, and a quarter say they are of an indigenous background, according to the Pew Research Center National Survey of Latinos. At the same time, two-thirds of Latinos say their Hispanic background is a part of their racial identity. (The U.S. Census Bureau’s forms describe “Hispanic” as an ethnic origin and not a race.)

An estimated 56.6 million Hispanics lived in the U.S. in 2015, a fast-growing population with diverse origins and many who are bilingual. Millions of people from Latin America have immigrated to the U.S. in recent decades, driving Hispanic population growth in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2014, there were 19.3 million Hispanic immigrants in the U.S., and this group accounts for nearly half of the nation’s immigrant population.

Some Latinos have long expressed concerns over policies that target unauthorized immigrants, disapproving of deportations by the federal government as well as state laws like California’s Proposition 187 in 1994, which denied public services to unauthorized immigrants, and more recently Arizona’s SB 1070, which allows police to check the immigration status of suspected unauthorized immigrants so long as an officer is enforcing other laws.

The race survey also found that many Hispanics discuss racial inequality on a regular basis with family and friends. About six-in-ten Hispanics (62%) say the topic of racial inequality comes up often or sometimes in conversations, a share similar to that of whites (59%). By comparison, 74% of blacks say the same.

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, Discrimination and Prejudice, Hispanic/Latino Identity

  1. Photo of Jens Manuel Krogstad

    is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

  2. Photo of Gustavo López

    is a research analyst focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.


  1. Barbara Griffith1 year ago

    I am wondering if any of the discrimination that is claimed is job based? One reason is that a lot of blacks and Latino’s don’t have very much job training since most of the decent paying jobs is using a computer. I know I read a article last year or so about the high drop out rates in the high schools in the LA area. The fact that high school drop out rates are high for both blacks and Latinos worse for the illegal immigrants that drop out because they either can’t learn English or refuse too. A person must have the ability to converse with your boss or be able to take orders from your boss if you want to work for that person
    because if they feel discrimination just because the boss or the manager asked them do a job that they felt wasn’t part their job description a person might feel that way. Just wondering.

  2. Anonymous1 year ago

    I find it interesting that only 35% if Hispanics over age 50 say they have experienced discrimination. What is the percentage if this group that is U.S. born? At 72 years old, I am in this age cohort and US born, have experienced discrimination, and know many others who have as well. In some ways, the discrimination was worse as I advanced professionally because it was more subtle and not as blatant.