The Diversifying Latino Population in the United States


A New Report from the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY Tracks the Changes among Different Racial and Ethnic Groups Within the Latino Population in the United States since 1990.



NEW YORK, May 20, 2022—The Graduate Center of The City University of New York’s Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) has released a report on the changes in the sociodemographic trends and differences among the four major racial and ethnic groups within the Latino population.

The report, titled “Racial and Ethnic Composition among Latinos in the United States (1990–2017),” examines the trends among this population from 1990 until 2017, investigated in detail by their sex, age, education, income, poverty status, and nativity.

During the last three decades, the Latino population has been growing steadily in the United States, representing about 18% of the total U.S. population in 2017. That said, the majority of Latinos in the U.S. identify as white (65% in 2017), followed by mixed-race (31.8%); Afro-Latinos (2.2%) and Indigenous Latinos (1.0%) are very few in comparison.

There were no stark differences in socioeconomic performance in terms of sex among these four Latino sub-groups, but there were important disparities in the following topics:

• Education. High-school non-completion decreased significantly among Latinos in general. The rates went from 47.0% to 29.3% among white Latinos, from 57.1% to 36.1% among mixed-race Latinos, from 47.8% to 20.3% among Afro-Latinos, and from 42.3% to 30.8% among Indigenous Latinos.

• Income. The proportion of white Latinos earning less than $10,000 a year (in 2017 dollars) decreased from 15.7% in 1990 to 4.8% in 2017. The sharpest decline was experienced among Afro-Latinos, that went from 23.7% to 7.7% over the same period.

• Poverty. Although all Latino sub-groups experienced a decline in poverty rates, it was the mixed-race Latinos who had the sharpest drop: from 32.7% in 1990 to 20.5% in 2017.

• Nativity. While the foreign-born white and mixed-race Latino population decreased slightly in this period (about one percentage point difference), it was the foreign-born Afro-Latinos who experienced the largest drop, from 38.2% to 26.4%. In contrast, the proportion of Indigenous Latinos grew substantially over this period, from 15.4% in 1990 to 27.6% in 2017.

Contact Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, Director of Quantitative Research, for a PDF of the report at

About The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

The core mission of CLACLS is to actively support and advance the study of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the U.S. in the doctoral programs of The Graduate Center, and to provide opportunities for Latino students at the Ph.D. level. CLACLS’s flagship program is the Latino Data Project, established in 2003 by Laird W. Bergad founding and current CLACLS director. Bergad is a distinguished professor in the Department of Latin American, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Lehman College and with the Ph.D. Program in History at The Graduate Center. The Latino Data Project conducts detailed quantitative research on the Latino population of the United States and New York City metropolitan region, analyzing raw data files produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

About The Graduate Center, CUNY

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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