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Hispanics of Puerto Rican Origin in the United States, 2011

An estimated 4.9 million Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin resided in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That is a slightly greater number than the population of Puerto Rico itself in 2011, which was 3.7 million. 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 Rico or they trace their family ancestry to Puerto Rico. This statistical profile focuses on the characteristics of Puerto Ricans residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, henceforth the United States.1

Puerto Ricans are the second-largest population of Hispanic origin living in the United States, accounting for 9.5% of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2011. Mexicans, the nation’s largest Hispanic origin group, constituted 33.5 million, or 64.6%, of the Hispanic population in 2011.2 This profile compares the demographic, income and economic characteristics of Puerto Ricans with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall. It is based on tabulations from the 2011 American Community Survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Key facts include:

  • Immigration status. Most Puerto Ricans in the United States—3.4 million in all—were born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Additionally, about one-third (31%) of the Puerto Rican population in the U.S.—1.5 million—was born in Puerto Rico. People born in Puerto Rico are also considered native born because they are U.S. citizens by birth. A small number of people of Puerto Rican origin—51,000—were born outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico and were not U.S. citizens by birth. They are considered foreign born.
  • Language. More than eight-in-ten (82%) Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older speak English proficiently.3 The other 18% of Puerto Ricans report speaking English less than very well, compared with 34% of all Hispanics.
  • Age. Puerto Ricans are younger than the U.S. population but slightly older than Hispanics overall. The median age of Puerto Ricans is 28; the median ages of the U.S. population and all Hispanics are 37 and 27, respectively.
  • Marital status. Puerto Ricans ages 15 and older are less likely to be married (35%) than Hispanics overall (43%) and the U.S. population overall (48%).
  • Fertility. Almost one-in-ten (7%) Puerto Rican women ages 15 to 44 gave birth in the 12 months prior to this survey. That was slightly less than the rate for all Hispanic women—8%—and about the same as the overall rate for U.S. women—6%. About two-thirds (63%) of Puerto Rican women ages 15 to 44 who gave birth in the 12 months prior to the survey were unmarried. That was greater than the rate for all Hispanic women—47%—and the overall rate for U.S. women—38%.
  • Regional dispersion. Puerto Ricans are concentrated in the Northeast (53%), mostly in New York (23%), and in the South (30%), mostly in Florida (18%).
  • Educational attainment. Puerto Ricans have higher levels of education than the Hispanic population overall but lower levels than the U.S. population overall. Some 16% of Puerto Ricans ages 25 and older—compared with 13% of all U.S. Hispanics and 29% 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 were $25,000 in the year prior to the survey—greater than the median earnings for all U.S. Hispanics ($20,000) but less than the median earnings for the U.S. population ($29,000).
  • Poverty status. The share of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty, 28%, is higher than the rate both for the general U.S. population (16%) and for Hispanics overall (26%).
  • Health Insurance.  Fully 15% of Puerto Ricans do not have health insurance compared with 30% of all Hispanics and 15% of the general U.S. population. Additionally, 5% of Puerto Ricans younger than 18 are uninsured.
  • Homeownership. The rate of Puerto Rican homeownership (37%) is lower than the rate for all Hispanics (46%) and lower than the 65% rate for the U.S. population as a whole.

About the Data

This statistical profile of Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin is based on the Census Bureau’s 2011 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 2011 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 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 Passel. “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2007)). 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,, and

  1. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, but all references to the United States in this profile refer to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  2. Percentages are computed before numbers are rounded.
  3. This includes Puerto Ricans ages 5 and older who report speaking only English at home or speaking English very well.
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