Pew Hispanic Center releases updated statistical profiles of U.S. Hispanics

The Pew Hispanic Center has just released updated profiles of the Hispanic population based on data from the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey (ACS). The new report touches on two especially timely topics: racial self-identification and health insurance coverage.

The Race Question

The question about race on the 2008 ACS contained the same wording as that found on the 2010 Census, so it’s an interesting indicator of the response this year’s survey might receive. There were two questions on the ACS form, both preceded by this explanation: NOTE: Please answer BOTH Question 5 about Hispanic origin and Question 6 about race. For this survey, Hispanic origins are not races. The first question asked for Hispanic origin, and the second for race, with Hispanic not an option.

On the 2008 ACS survey, 62.5% of Hispanics answered they are white only. Only 1.9% self-identified themselves as black only. However, 30.4% identify themselves as “some other race,” a response rarely selected by the non-Hispanic population. While the percentage of Hispanics answering “some other race” has decreased from recent years, nearly a third of the population is still a sizable portion. The Pew Center conducted its own surveys of Latinos in 2009 and received the following response to the race question: 26% white, 8% black or other, 28% some other race and 37% Hispanic/Latino (volunteered this identification).

Personally, I’ve already seen this topic come up several times in the past month, from Facebook wall posts by friends to media coverage and blog posts. It will be interesting to see the responses to the 2010 Census, especially with the increased attention on the issue and terminology this year.

Health Insurance Coverage

For the first time, the 2008 ACS included a question about health insurance coverage, and found that Hispanics are the least likely to have health insurance among racial and ethnic groups.

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