Young Latinos seem to face a tougher future

Those between the ages of 16 and 25 are more likely than other young
people to have a child before 19, drop out of school and live in
poverty, a study finds.

By Anna Gorman

December 11, 2009

Latinos believe education and hard work are key to a successful future,
but they are more likely than other young people to drop out of school
and live in poverty, according to a new Pew Hispanic Center study being
released today.

The study, based on a survey of more than 1,200 Latinos ages 16 to 25
and an analysis of census data, presents a portrait of the assimilation
of a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, one that will have
a significant effect on the nation's politics and economics in coming
years. Young Latinos make up 18% of all young people in the nation and
42% in California. 

About one-third of young Latinos are immigrants, but two-thirds are born
in the U.S. Many are the children of immigrants who began arriving in
the U.S. in 1965.

"If you want to understand what America is going to be like in the 21st
century, you need to have understanding of how today's young Latinos,
most of whom are not immigrants, will grow up," said Paul Taylor,
director of the Pew Hispanic Center. "Never before in this nation's
history has a minority ethnic group made up so large a share of the
youngest Americans."

That could raise concerns in some areas. About one-quarter of all young
Latinas have a child by age 19, a rate higher than whites, Asians and
blacks. About 17% of Latinos drop out of school -- nearly double the
rate among blacks. And about 23% of young Latinos live in poverty --
higher than whites but lower than blacks. 

But over time, Latinos gain more education -- those born in the U.S. are
less likely to leave high school than those in the first generation,
according to the study. The U.S.-born are also less likely than
foreign-born young Latinos to be employed in construction, food
preparation or other low-skilled jobs. They are also more proficient in
English and less likely to live in poverty.

However, those born in the U.S. are more likely to have gang ties or be
incarcerated, according to the study. 

The findings also raise questions about identity. More than half of the
young people identify themselves first by their family's native country.
Among those born in the U.S., 33% say they are American first, and 41%
identify themselves by their parents' homeland.

"They are growing up in households where the immigrant experience is a
very recent experience," said Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the
Pew Hispanic Center. 

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