The Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation 2002 National Survey of Latinos comprehensively explores the attitudes and experiences of Hispanics on a wide variety of topics. This survey was designed to capture the diversity of the Latino population by including almost 3,000 Hispanics from various backgrounds and groups so that in addition to describing Latinos overall, comparisons can be made among key Hispanic subgroups as well.
- When asked whether they ever use certain terms to describe themselves, a large majority of Latinos (88%) indicate that they ever identify themselves by the country where they or their parents or ancestors were born, for example as a “Mexican” or “Cuban.” They are almost as likely (81%) to ever use “Latino or Hispanic.” By contrast, they are much less likely to ever use the term “American” (53%).
- When asked which terms they would use first to describe themselves, a little more than half (54%) indicate that they primarily identify themselves in terms of their or their parents’ country of origin; about one in four (24%) chooses “Latino” or “Hispanic,” and about one in five (21%) chooses “American.”
When comparing the United States to the countries where they or their ancestors were born, Latinos overall are fairly positive and optimistic. In particular, they feel very strongly that the United States offers more opportunities to get ahead and that Hispanic children growing up in the United States will have more opportunities in employment and education than they themselves had. On the other hand, Hispanics express somewhat less positive and more mixed views on the state of moral values and the strength of family ties in the United States. Nonetheless, there seems to be some confidence that Latinos can pass on the values that they deem important, and a majority maintains that Hispanic children growing up in the
United States will stay close to their families.
- Hispanics, particularly those who are Spanish speakers, feel very strongly that Hispanics must learn English in order to be successful in the United States.
- Spanish remains the dominant language in the adult Hispanic population. English, however, clearly gains ground even within immigrant households. The second generation–the U.S.- born children of immigrants–predominantly speak English or are bilingual. Indeed, Hispanic parents, even those who are immigrants, report that English is the language their children generally use when speaking to their friends.
- Latinos overwhelmingly say that discrimination against Latinos is a problem both in general and in specific settings such as schools and the workplace.
- An overwhelming majority (83%) of Hispanics also report that discrimination by Hispanics against other Hispanics is a problem, and almost half (47%) feel that this is a major problem. Latinos are most likely to attribute this type of discrimination to disparities in income and education, though a substantial number also feel that Latinos discriminate against other Latinos because they or their parents or ancestors are from a different country of origin.