WASHINGTON — Latinos in America are generally optimistic about the future, despite still facing challenges such as discrimination and concerns over job security and personal finances, according to a report released Tuesday.
NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health polled nearly 1,500 Latino Americans on topics including education, finances, religion, health and jobs. More than half, or 52 percent, stated no preference on being called “Latino” or “Hispanic.”
About 44 percent of Latinos live in predominantly Hispanic communities, the report found. Latinos reported facing several challenges in their communities, with 16 percent experiencing crime and violence, and 10 percent reporting economic issues.
About 40 percent of Hispanics rated that the quality of available housing in their community is fair or poor. More than a third also rated as fair or poor the public transportation system (36 percent) and availability of recreational facilities for exercise and sports (36 percent). Nearly the same number, 34 percent, said safety from crime in their community was fair or poor.
Despite these concerns, the majority of Hispanics, 89 percent, said they are satisfied with their communities.
Discrimination remains a challenge, the report indicates. About a quarter, or 26 percent, said they have experienced discrimination in the past year and believe it was because they are Latino. About 1 in 10 Latinos said they believe they received poor health care within the past five years because of their ethnic background, or because they spoke with an accent. Among the Latinos who have received health care in the past year, 19 percent rated health care services as fair or poor.
Like most Americans, Hispanics also worry about job security and finances. About 45 percent of employed Latinos feared they or someone in their household will lose a job within the next year. More than a third, or 36 percent, say their personal finances are not so good or poor.
More than three-quarters of Hispanics, or 77 percent, think their children will have better educational opportunities than they did, and 83 percent think their children will have better employment opportunities. About 80 percent of Latinos think their children will be better off than they are when their children reach the age they are today. About 90 percent of Hispanics are satisfied with their lives overall.
The report compares Latino immigrants to American-born Latinos. Immigrants overall were more optimistic about their future than native-born. About 91 percent of Latino immigrants feel their children would have better educational opportunities than themselves compared to 68 percent of native-born Latinos.
Immigrants were more likely than native-born Latinos to have only a high school education or less, 74 percent compared to 49 percent. Employed immigrants were twice as likely as employed native-born Latinos to say they were concerned about themselves or someone in their household losing their job within the next year. They were also twice as likely to say they were not confident they had enough money or health insurance to pay for a major illness, with 67 percent compared to 34 percent.
The study also examined Latinos by dividing them according to heritage: Cubans, Dominicans, South Americans, Central Americans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. It found that Cubans were ahead of most other Latinos in many social economic indicators, including education and home ownership. Puerto Ricans were more likely to speak English than Spanish at home. Central Americans were the least educated among poll participants, with more than half having less than a high school education.
The study was compiled from interviews conducted in English and Spanish via telephone, landline and cell phone, by SSRS of Media from June 11 to July 14, 2013, among a nationally representative sample of 1,478 Latinos age 18 and older. The margin of error for total respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.