News Column

Past, Present, Future

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Twenty-five years from now, Hispanic entrepreneurs will compete in a tightly integrated global economy where their cultural heritage will function as a key advantage. "Whatever their country of origin, there will be a linkage that will help them penetrate those markets," Mr. Pinto believes. "It's a natural social connection that translates into economic transactions for trade and investment."

"In the context of a globalized business environment, professional Hispanics have a competitive advantage," says Mr. Solana of HispanTelligence. "Similarly, Hispanic-owned companies that maintain active ties with other countries excel by exporting. We observe this with our studies on the Hispanic Business Corporate Elite, 100 Influentials, Fastest-Growing 100 Companies, and Top 50 Exporters."

The expanding affluence of the Hispanic middle class and the growing influence of Hispanic entrepreneurs and professionals will have profound impact on the national U.S. economy and political system. According to a recent study by HispanTelligence, U.S. Hispanic purchasing power will reach a staggering $1 trillion by 2010 (see graph). "Hispanic purchasing power has been increasing at a compound annual rate of 5.6 percent since 1978, more than twice as fast as the 2.31 percent for the total U.S. purchasing power," the report states.

An estimate in the report projects that Hispanics will account for 11 percent of total U.S. purchasing power in 2010, up from 8.5 percent today. While Hispanic population growth accounts for some of the new purchasing strength, analysis of Census data shows the other driver is the fast rate at which Hispanic income is catching up to the U.S. average.

Politically, Hispanics represent 13.4 percent of the total U.S. population but only cast 5.3 percent of the votes in the 2000 presidential elections. "The registration and voting percentage rates of U.S. Hispanics are well below those of Anglos and African-Americans," according to a HispanTelligence report titled "The U.S. Hispanic Electorate." However, "once registered, the vast majority [78.6 percent] of Hispanics tend to vote," the report states.

In the coming decades, voter registration will determine Hispanic power at the polls. By 2030, 14.5 million Hispanics will be registered to vote, HispanTelligence estimates. Geographical dispersion of the population and a tight race will make the Hispanic constituency a factor in 22 states as early as the 2004 presidential election, according the HispanTelligence report. Finally, the Hispanic middle class will lead one of the most far-reaching changes predicted for the next 25 years – the gradual Hispanization of the United States. In the word of Mr. Ghadar, "America is gradually becoming Hispanic."

"Hispanic cultural influence over general consumer behavior continues to build rapidly," concludes Carlos Ordoņez of the California-based market research firm Cheskin. "Many Anglos are adopting deep Hispanic tastes and behaviors without conflict. As a consequence, we're bound to see Hispanic culture influencing other segments of the population with greater frequency and impact. We're already seeing this convergence, especially among urban and inner-city youth."

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