Mexicans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin; this means either they themselves are Mexican immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Mexico.
Mexicans are the largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for nearly two-thirds (64.1%) of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2013.1 Since 1980, the Mexican-origin population has almost quadrupled, growing from 8.8 million to 34.6 million over the period. At the same time, the foreign-born population of Mexican origin living in the U.S. grew more than 400%, up from 2.2 million in 1980 to 11.5 million in 2013.
This statistical profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of the Mexican population with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall, and includes public opinion data of Mexican and Hispanic adults. It is based on Pew Research Center tabulations of the 2013 American Community Survey and Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos. Key facts include:
- Immigration status. One-third of Mexicans in the United States are foreign born, compared with 35% of Hispanics and 13% of the U.S. population overall. Some 42% of immigrants from Mexico have been in the U.S. for over 20 years. About one-quarter of Mexican immigrants (26%) are U.S. citizens.
- English proficiency and speaking Spanish at home. According to the ACS, more than two-thirds (68%) of Mexicans speak English proficiently.2 Some 32% of Mexicans ages 5 and older report speaking English less than very well, equal to the share among all Hispanics. Overall, 73% of Mexicans speak Spanish at home, equal to the share of all Hispanics ages 5 and older who speak Spanish at home.
- Bilingualism and language dominance. According to the 2013 Pew Research Center survey, about one-quarter of Mexican adults (26%) are English-dominant, similar to the share of Hispanics overall (25%).3 Four-in-ten Mexican adults are Spanish-dominant, and roughly one-third (34%) are bilingual. The share of Mexican adults who are Spanish-dominant is about the same as the overall Hispanic population (38%), and the share of bilingual speakers is similar to the overall Hispanic population (36%). For Mexican immigrants, two-thirds (66%) are Spanish-dominant, while three-in-ten are bilingual. Only 4% of Mexican immigrants are English-dominant.
- Age. Mexicans are younger than the U.S. population and Hispanics overall. The median age of Mexicans is 26; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 37 and 28, respectively. Among Mexicans, the median age of immigrants is 39 years, while it’s only 17 years among the U.S. born.
- Marital status. Mexicans ages 18 and older are slightly more likely (48%) to be married than Hispanics overall (46%) but less likely than the U.S. population overall (50%). Among Mexicans ages 18 and older, the foreign born are more likely to be married than U.S.-born Mexicans—60% vs. 37%.
- Fertility. Fewer than one-in-ten (7%) Mexican women ages 15 to 44 gave birth in the 12 months prior to this survey. That was equal to the rate for all Hispanic women and similar to the overall rate for U.S. women (6%). More than four-in-ten (44%) Mexican women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was similar to the 45% rate for all Hispanic women and greater than the 38% overall rate for U.S. women.
- Regional dispersion. More than half of Mexicans live in the West (51%), mostly in California (35%), and 35% live in the South, mostly in Texas (26%).
- Educational attainment. Mexicans have lower levels of education than the U.S. Hispanic population and the U.S. population overall. Some 10% of Mexicans ages 25 and older—compared with 14% of all U.S. Hispanics and 30% among the entire U.S. population—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree. Among Mexicans ages 25 and older, the U.S. born are more likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree or more than foreign-born Mexicans—15% vs. 6%.
- Income. The median annual personal earnings for Mexicans ages 16 and older was $20,800 in the year prior to the survey—slightly lower than the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics ($21,900) and lower than the median earnings for the U.S. population ($30,000).
- Poverty status. The share of Mexicans who live in poverty, 26%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (16%) and slightly higher than the rate for Hispanics overall (25%).
- Health insurance. About three-in-ten Mexicans (31%) do not have health insurance, compared with 29% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Some 13% of Mexicans younger than 18 are uninsured. (These data reflect insurance rates prior to the implementation of the individual insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act.)
- Homeownership. The rate of Mexican homeownership (47%) is higher than the rate for all Hispanics (45%) and lower than the U.S. population (64%) as a whole.
- “Mexican” is the identity term used most often. When asked in a 2o13 Pew Research Center survey what term they use to describe themselves most often, a majority of Mexican adults (57%) say they most often use the term “Mexican.” About two-in-ten (21%) say they describe themselves most often as “American.” The same share most often use the pan-ethnic terms of “Hispanic” or “Latino” to describe their identity. By comparison, 54% of all U.S. Hispanics say they prefer their ancestor’s Hispanic origin term to describe their identity, 23% say they describe themselves most often as “American” and two-in-ten use the pan-ethnic terms of “Hispanic” or “Latino” to describe their identity.
- Preference for Hispanic or Latino. In regard to the pan-ethnic terms of “Hispanic” or “Latino,” half of Mexican adults have no preference for either term. Among those who have a preference, more prefer the term “Hispanic” (35% of all Mexicans), while 13% prefer the term “Latino.” By comparison, half of all Hispanic adults have no preference for either term, and among those who do have a preference Hispanic is favored over Latino 2-to-1.
- Typical American or not. When asked in the 2o13 Pew Research survey whether they thought of themselves as a typical American or very different from a typical American, the responses are split. Some 48% of Mexican adults see themselves as a “typical American,” while 46% think of themselves as “very different from a typical American.” Hispanic adults overall share similar views as Mexicans, and on balance Hispanic adults are more likely to see themselves as a typical American (49%) than very different from a typical American (44%).
- Religious affiliation. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey of Hispanic adults finds that a majority of Mexican adults (61%) identify themselves as Catholic. About two-in-ten (18%) Mexicans are Protestant, and among all Mexicans, 5% are mainline Protestants and 13% are evangelical Protestants. Roughly two-in-ten (17%) Mexicans are religiously unaffiliated. In contrast, among all Hispanics, 55% identify as Catholic, 22% identify as Protestant, and about two-in-ten (18%) are unaffiliated.
About the Data
This statistical profile of Hispanics of Mexican origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS) and a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey of 5,103 Hispanic adults conducted May 24-July 28, 2013. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish on cellular as well as landline telephones and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. For a complete methodology, see: https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2014/05/07/appendix-a-survey-methodology-2/
Like any survey, estimates from the ACS are subject to sampling error and (potentially) measurement error. Information on the ACS sampling strategy and associated error is available at http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/methodology_main/. An example of measurement error is that citizenship rates for the foreign born are estimated to be overstated in the decennial census and other official surveys, such as the ACS (see Jeffrey S. Passel. 2007. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization.” Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center, March). Finally, estimates from the ACS may differ from the decennial census or other Census Bureau surveys due to differences in methodology and data collection procedures (see, for example, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/laborfor/laborfactsheet092209.html and http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/datasources/factsheet.html).