Affluence of Puerto Ricans versus Other Minorities Essays

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Affluence of Puerto Ricans versus Other Minorities

The term "Hispanic" which is used to describe Spanish-speaking American ethnic groups--mainly Mexican-Americans, but also Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans,
Colombians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and immigrants from other Latin American countries--may wind up having only a brief run in common parlance. It has been in official governmental use for only a few years; the Census Bureau did not extensively use the term "Hispanic" until the 1980 census. Now it faces two threats: First, although most
Hispanic groups are comfortable with the term, another name, "Latino," is gaining favor, especially on campuses, because it implies that Latin America has a distinctive
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Puerto Ricans are the second-largest Hispanic group--2.75 million people in the mainland United States.
A third of them live in one city--New York. As soon as the Hispanic category is broken down by group, what leaps out at anyone who takes even a casual look at the census data is that Puerto Ricans are the worst off ethnic group in the United States. For a period in the mid-1980s nearly half of all Puerto Rican families were living in poverty. It seems commonsensical that for
Hispanics poverty would be a function of their unfamiliarity with the mainland United
States, inability to speak English, and lack of education. But Mexican Americans, who are no more proficient in English than Puerto Ricans, less likely to have finished high school, and more likely to have arrived here very recently, have a much lower poverty rate. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported earlier this year that, as the newsletter of a leading Puerto Rican organization put it, "On almost every health indicator...Puerto Ricans fared worse" than Mexican-Americans or Cubans. Infant mortality was 50 percent higher than among Mexican-Americans, and nearly three times as high as among Cubans. The statistics also show Puerto Ricans to be much more severely afflicted than
Mexican-Americans by what might be called the secondary effects of poverty, such as

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