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John Batchelor

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Not as fragmented as pessimists presume

A major study from the Pew Research Center should reassure those of us who worry about the fragmentation of America based on race and ethnicity. Among the 43 million U.S. adults with Hispanic ancestry, a full 5 million don’t identify themselves as “Hispanic” or “Latino” at all.

Moreover, among families who’ve lived in the United States four generations or more — in other words, those with parents and grand-grandparents who are American born — Hispanic identification is only fifty-fifty. This means Latinos follow the familiar pattern of other immigrant groups, like the Irish or Italians, who de-emphasize ethnic identity after several generations in the U.S.

This contrasts with patterns of racial identity, where the great majority of African-Americans still describe themselves as black, even after several centuries in the U.S. Heavy intermarriage plays a big part in the increasingly rapid assimilation of Hispanics: among married third generation Latinos, the big majority — nearly two-thirds, in fact — have a non-Latino spouse.

Perhaps we’re not as fragmented as the pessimists presume.

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