An estimated 5.1 million Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin resided in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That is a substantially greater number than the population of Puerto Rico itself, which was 3.6 million in 2013 and has been in decline for the past few years largely due to out-migration. As a result, the number of Puerto Rican-origin Hispanics living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia has exceeded the number of people of Puerto Rican ancestry living on the island of Puerto Rico at least since 2005.
Puerto Ricans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin; this means either they themselves were born in Puerto Rico1 or they were born in the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia or elsewhere, but trace their family ancestry to Puerto Rico. This statistical profile focuses on the characteristics of Puerto Rican-origin Hispanics residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.2
Puerto Ricans are the second-largest Hispanic origin population living in the United States, accounting for 9.5% of the U.S. Hispanic population 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. Since 1980, the Puerto Rican-origin population living on the mainland has more than doubled, growing from 2.0 million to 5.1 million over the period. At the same time, the Puerto Rican-born population living in the U.S. grew by 56%, up from 954,000 in 1980 to 1.5 million in 2013.3
This profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of Puerto Ricans with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall and includes public opinion data of Puerto Rican and Hispanic adults. Unless otherwise noted, data are based on tabulations from the 2013 American Community Survey and Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos. Key facts include:
- Immigration status. A majority of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin in the United States—3.5 million in all—were born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Additionally, about one-third (29%) of the U.S. Puerto Rican population—1.5 million—was born in Puerto Rico. People born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens by birth. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, a small number of people of Puerto Rican origin—135,000—were born outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico to parents who were not U.S. citizens. This group also self-reports that they were not U.S. citizens at birth.4
- English proficiency and speaking Spanish at home. According to the 2013 ACS, more than eight-in-ten (83%) Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.5 The other 17% of Puerto Ricans report speaking English less than very well, compared with 32% of all Hispanics. Overall, 61% of Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home, below the share (73%) of all Hispanics who do the same.
- Bilingualism and language dominance. According to the 2013 Pew Research survey, about four-in-ten Puerto Rican adults (42%) are English-dominant,6 higher than the share of Hispanics overall (25%). Some 16% of Puerto Rican adults are Spanish-dominant, and about four-in-ten (41%) are bilingual. Some 38% of Hispanic adults are Spanish-dominant, and 36% are bilingual. For Puerto Ricans who were born on the island, 36% are Spanish-dominant, while about half (49%) are bilingual. Only 15% of Puerto Rican adults who were born on the island are English-dominant. By comparison, about six-in-ten Puerto Ricans (62%) born on the U.S. mainland are English-dominant.
- Age. Puerto Ricans are younger than the U.S. population and have about the same median age as Hispanics overall. The median age of Puerto Ricans is 29; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 37 and 28, respectively. Among Puerto Ricans, the median age of those born on the island is 47 years, while it’s 22 years among those born on the mainland.
- Marital status. Puerto Ricans ages 18 and older are less likely to be married (36%) than Hispanics overall (46%) and the U.S. population overall (50%). Among Puerto Ricans ages 18 and older, those who are island born are more likely to be married than those who are mainland born—43% vs. 32%.
- Fertility. About one-in-twenty (6%) Puerto Rican women ages 15 to 44 gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey. That was similar to the rate for all Hispanic women (7%) and the same as the overall rate for U.S. women. About six-in-ten (62%) Puerto Rican women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was higher than the 45% rate for all Hispanic women and the overall 38% rate for U.S. women.
- Regional dispersion. Puerto Ricans are concentrated in the Northeast (51%), mostly in New York (21%), and in the South (31%), mostly in Florida (19%).
- Educational attainment. Puerto Ricans have higher levels of education than the U.S. Hispanic population but lower levels than the total U.S. population. Some 18% of Puerto Ricans ages 25 and older—compared with 14% of all U.S. Hispanics and 30% among the U.S. population—have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Income. The median annual personal earnings for Puerto Ricans ages 16 and older was $25,000 in the year prior to the survey—higher than the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics ($21,900) but lower than the median earnings for the U.S. population ($30,000).
- Poverty status. The share of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty, 27%, is higher than the rate for the general U.S. population (16%) and for Hispanics overall (25%).
- Health insurance. Some 14% of Puerto Ricans do not have health insurance, compared with 29% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 5% of Puerto Ricans 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 Puerto Rican homeownership (38%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (45%) and the U.S. population (64%) as a whole.
- “Puerto Rican” is the identity term used most often. When asked in a 2o13 Pew Research Center survey what term they use most often to describe themselves, some 55% of Puerto Rican adults say they most often use “Puerto Rican.” About three-in-ten (28%) say they describe themselves most often as “American,” while 14% 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 “Hispanic” and “Latino,” 56% of Puerto Rican adults say they have no preference for either term. Among those who have a preference, twice as many prefer “Hispanic” (30% of all Puerto Ricans) as prefer the term “Latino” (14%). 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 whether they think of themselves as a typical American or very different from a typical American, roughly six-in-ten Puerto Rican adults (57%) see themselves as a typical American, while 38% think of themselves as very different from a typical American. By comparison, Hispanic adults overall are less likely to think of themselves as typical Americans (49%) compared with Puerto Ricans, 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 some 45% of Puerto Rican adults identify themselves as Catholic. About three-in-ten (29%) Puerto Ricans are Protestant, and among all Puerto Ricans, 8% are mainline Protestants and 22% are evangelical Protestants. Two-in-ten Puerto Ricans are religiously unaffiliated. By 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 Puerto Rican 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).