Nicaraguans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Nicaraguan origin; this means either they themselves are Nicaraguan immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Nicaragua.
Nicaraguans are the 12th-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 0.7% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2013. Since 1990, the Nicaraguan-origin population nearly doubled, growing from 203,000 to 381,000 over the period. At the same time, the foreign-born population of Nicaraguan origin living in the U.S. grew by 35%, up from 164,000 in 1990 to 222,000 in 2013. In comparison, Mexicans, the nation’s largest Hispanic origin group, constituted 34.6 million, or 64.1%, of the Hispanic population in 2013.1
This statistical profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of the Nicaraguan population with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on Pew Research Center tabulations of the 2013 American Community Survey. Key facts include:
- Immigration status. About six-in-ten Nicaraguans (58%) in the United States are foreign born, compared with 35% of Hispanics and 13% of the U.S. population overall. About six-in-ten immigrants from Nicaragua (59%) have been in the U.S. for over 20 years. A little over half of Nicaraguan immigrants (56%) are U.S. citizens.
- Language. About six-in-ten (63%) Nicaraguans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.2 Some 37% of Nicaraguans report speaking English less than very well, compared with 32% of all Hispanics. In addition, 83% of Nicaraguans ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home.
- Age. Nicaraguans are younger than the U.S. population but older than Hispanics overall. The median age of Nicaraguans is 33; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 37 and 28, respectively. Among Nicaraguans, the median age of immigrants is 44 years, while it’s only 16 years among the U.S. born.
- Marital status. Nicaraguans ages 18 and older are about as likely to be married (47%) as Hispanics overall (46%) but less likely to be married than the U.S. population overall (50%).
- Fertility. Less than one-in-ten (7%) Nicaraguan women ages 15 to 44 gave birth in the 12 months prior to this survey. That was the same as the rate for all Hispanic women and similar to the overall rate for U.S. women (6%).
- Regional dispersion. Nicaraguans are concentrated in the South (54%), mostly in Florida (36%), and in the West (33%), mostly in California (29%).
- Educational attainment. Nicaraguans have higher levels of education than the U.S. Hispanic population but lower levels than the U.S. population overall. Some 19% of Nicaraguans 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 Nicaraguans ages 25 and older, the U.S. born are more likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree or more than foreign-born Nicaraguans—33% vs. 16%..
- Income. The median annual personal earnings for Nicaraguans ages 16 and older was $24,000 in the year prior to the survey—higher 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 Nicaraguans who live in poverty, 17%, is close to the rate for the general U.S. population (16%) and less than the rate for Hispanics overall (25%).
- Health insurance. About three-in-ten Nicaraguans (31%) do not have health insurance, compared with 29% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Some 10% of Nicaraguans 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 Nicaraguan homeownership (42%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (45%) and the U.S. population (64%) as a whole.
About the Data
This statistical profile of Hispanics of Nicaraguan origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. The data used for this statistical profile come from 2013 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), representing a 1% sample of the U.S. population.
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).