Puerto Rican Women In The New York Metropolitan Area Had Higher College Graduation Rates Than Men


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NEW YORK, November 29, 2022—A new report published today by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) shows that by 2020, nearly 21% of all Puerto Rican women in the New York metro area had completed a B.A. degree or higher, compared to about 16% of Puerto Rican men.

The report, titled “The Puerto Rican Population of the New York Metropolitan Region, 1970–2020” and written by Dr. Laird W. Bergad, focuses on the demographic and socioeconomic changes occurring within the Puerto Rican population of the New York metropolitan area between 1970 and 2020.

Puerto Rican households headed by women increased dramatically since 1980—by 2020, over 60% were so—but they earned significantly lower median household income ($43,000) than male-headed households ($69,000).

Other key findings:

• Although the Puerto Rican population in the city decreased, there was an increasing suburbanization movement: in 1970, only 17% of all Puerto Ricans lived in the city, but this increased to 44% in 2020.

• There was a relative decline in the numbers and percentage of Puerto Ricans born in the island. In 1970, about 51% of the Puerto Rican population was born in Puerto Rico, but by 2020, this figure was only 33%.

• Educational attainment has increased among Puerto Ricans overall. While in 1970, only 0.6% of the adult Puerto Rican population (25 years of age and older) had graduated college with a B.A. degree or higher, this proportion increased to 18% in 2020.

• Median household incomes increased from $33,980 (in 2020 inflation-adjusted dollars) to $75,000 in 2020. Aside from the gender disparities in income, there were also differences by nativity. Households headed by Puerto Ricans born in the U.S. earned about $67,000 compared to $34,000 for those born in the island.

• Poverty rates among Puerto Ricans peaked nearly at 40% in 1980 but fell steadily thereafter to 23% in 2020. But this figure was almost 29% among Puerto Ricans living in the city compared to only 15% of Puerto Ricans living in the surrounding counties.

• Puerto Ricans comprised about 36% of all potential Latino voters in the region in 2020, but only 7% of all potential voters.

Contact Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, Director of Quantitative Research, for a PDF of the report at svillamizarsantamaria@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

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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