News Column

Past, Present, Future

Page 2 of 6

"It is not only the quantitative growth, but the quality of growth in terms of higher jobs, enterprise growth, and savings and investing trends that fully describe the Hispanic market," says Juan Solana, chief economist for HispanTelligence. "These factors all contribute to increasing the wealth and economic development of Hispanics."

Internal dynamics of the population indicate that over time, the U.S. Hispanic market will lose its immigrant character and meld with the mainstream culture. The main driver behind this qualitative change is the growth of second- and third-generation Hispanic segments, compared to first-generation immigrants. Data projections by the Pew Hispanic Center show that by 2020, nearly half (47 percent) of the growth in the Hispanic population will come from the second generation and another 38 percent from the third generation (see table). Immigrants will account for only a quarter (25 percent) of new Hispanics.

(percentage growth U.S. population)
Generation 1970-2000 2000-2020
Foreign-born 45% 25%
Second Generation 28% 47%
Third Generation 27% 28%
Source: The Pew Hispanic Center: "The Rise of the Second Generation: Changing Patterns in Hispanic Population Growth"

This generational evolution involves cultural identity, especially as transmitted by native language. Using Census data, Hispanic Consumers in Transition calculates that 89.6 percent of native-born Hispanics speak English well compared to about half (52 percent) of foreign-born Hispanics. "An overwhelming percentage of Hispanics speak English very well and the age of fluency is getting younger and younger," the book concludes. "The large and growing divide between native- and foreign-born Hispanic demographics becomes more pronounced with each passing year and decade."

Language-use trends hold staggering implications for the future of Hispanic media. In the book "Latinos Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People," Arlene Davila relates that the Spanish-language broadcasting industry's "premise and rationale for existence are not only that there are basic differences between Latinos and other consumers that need to be addressed through culture- and language-specific marketing, but also that there is a continuous influx to the United States of Spanish-speaking populations that would not be reached by advertising were it not for this type of marketing."

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