The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.

My Latest Column: On the Future of Hispanic Identity


My latest column for Reuters Opinion argues that to understand the future of America’s Hispanic population, we need to take into account the phenomenon of “ethnic attrition“:

For example, while virtually all third-generation Mexican-Americans with three or four Mexican-born grandparents identify as being of Mexican descent, Duncan and Trejo observe that only 79 percent of those with two Mexican-born grandparents do the same. For those with only one Mexican-born grandparent, the share falls to 58 percent.

Only 17 percent of third-generation Mexican-Americans have three or four Mexican-born grandparents, so the ethnic attrition rate is quite high: 30 percent of Americans with at least one Mexican-born grandparent do not identify as being of Mexican descent. It appears, according to Duncan and Trejo, that the educational attainment of Mexican-Americans who don’t identify as Mexican is higher than for those who do.

This suggests that when we measure life outcomes for third-generation Mexican-Americans, we might be biasing the results by relying on self-identification and thus failing to include large numbers of individuals with at least one Mexican-born grandparent.

The column opens with a discussion of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s recent suggestion that Sen. Ted Cruz shouldn’t be “defined as a Hispanic,” one of many examples of Cruz getting under the skin of a prominent liberal. Ramesh Ponnuru’s latest Bloomberg View column explores this larger theme of how liberal (and moderate) contempt for Cruz strengthens his position on the right.


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