In the United States, a report by Pew the Research Center found that the Latino population reached 58 million in 2016 (Flores 1). The Latinos have been a key driver of population growth in America accounting for half of the national growth since 2000 (Flores 1). The changes in immigration and education made the Latino population evolve during the 2000s in America (Flores 1). Among the top Latino populace, California ranks the highest state with Hispanics. The that Latino population in California is diverse. The Latino population in California is growing at a faster pace. The state has changed the American narrative of diversity since the majority of its ethnic population are Latinos. On September 19th, 2017, California state was ranked the most diverse state in terms of socio-economic, cultural, economic, household, and religious diversity (Jennewein 1). This paper discusses Latino diversity in the state of California by examining their cultural groups, religion, socio-economic background, values, and experiences. Additionally, the paper discusses the impact the Latino population has had on modern-day California.
Latino Immigration and Settlement in California
Hispanic explorers reached the shores of California in the 1500s (Calisphere 1). Spain had built missions throughout California during the 19th century (Calispere 1). By the 19th century, large numbers of people from Mexico, Central America, and South settled in the country (California Office of Historic Prevention 3). In the mid-19th century, small numbers of immigrants from Mexico came to California because of their interest in gold (3). It is estimated that 10,000 Mexicans came to California during the Gold Rush period of 1848 (3). Some of the Mexicans returned to their country after failed attempts to get gold while others remained and more immigrants joined those who remained in California (3). By 1900, almost 100,000 immigrants came to America and 8000 of that number settled in California (3). The earliest Mexicans found work in sectors such as mining, railroads, construction, and agriculture (3). This led to a boom in those industries and there was a need for more workers (3). Latinos began to settle in the areas where employment was on the rise (3). The Latino population from Mexico, called the Californios, were Mexican citizens who chose to settle in California after the Mexican war (3). The Californios owned massive land grants when they were part of the United States of Mexico (Calisphere 1). Settlement patterns and immigration continued in California in the 20th century (California Office of Historic Prevention 3). A large number of Latinos who immigrated to California were from Mexico (3). Mexican immigrants in California battled with American citizenship as some had to go back to their countries (3). However, in the late 20th century, a circular pattern of migration developed when America encouraged permanent settlement for immigrants (3).
Latino's Struggle With Inclusion in California
In the 20th century, Latinos experienced discrimination and segregation despite their contribution to California's economy (California Office of Historic Prevention 98). The inequality made Latinos fight for their equal rights in American society (98). Latinos began to fight for their rights in the 1930s and it reached its peak in the 1960s with the rise of the Chicano Movement and then expanded in the 1980s (98). Even in sectors such as housing, Latinos experienced discrimination and it was until the post-war period in the 1970s that Latinos broke the color line (98). Besides, Mexicans demanded equality in areas such as education, voting rights, and electoral representation (98). By the 1950s, Latinos achieved legalized segregation in California and gain rights in voting and electoral politics by the 1970s (98).
Religion and Spirituality Among Latinos
Latinos is California have practiced religions such as Christianity, Mainline Protestantism, evangelical, and charismatic denominations (California Office of Historic Prevention 27). Latinos in California were the second and third generation and when they arrived in America, they wanted to blend with the American culture rather than practice that of their place of birth (27). In the 1960s, the Chicano movement made Latinos return to their old religious traditions to form their unique identity (27). The Latino Civil Rights Struggles extended religious principles among Latinos (27).
Place of Birth and Citizenship Status
California Senate Office of Research (5) indicated that according to the 2015 census bureau report, from 2010 to 2014, Latinos were more likely to be foreign-born. The foreign-born Latinos were less likely than other foreign-born people to be American citizens (5). In entire California, 37% of Latinos were foreign-born and 25% of the foreign-born Latinos did not have American citizenship (5). The percentage included in the population non-citizen Latinos included those who are undocumented and those who were lawfully present in America but not citizens such as those who had green cards or visas (5). In urban counties, 39% of Latinos were foreign-born and 26% of the population did not have citizenship (5). In suburbs and medium metro counties, 34% of Latinos were foreign-born and 24% were non-American citizens (5). In small metro and rural counties, 34% of Latinos were foreign-born and 23% of them were non-American citizens (5).
Population Growth and Age Distribution of Latinos in California
The Latino population in California is growing rapidly. In the 2015 census report, it was established that 39.1 million people lived in California with 15.2 million Latinos (39%) (California Senate Office of Research 6). Between 2016 and 2030, the Latino population will increase by 3.6 million and between 2030-2060, the Latino population will increase by 6.5 million (6). Also, the report indicated that the Latino population will be 43% by 2030 and increase to 49% by 2060 (6). The largest increase in the Latino population will occur in small metro and rural counties even though more Latinos will continue to live in urban areas (6).
Regarding the age distribution, most Latinos in California are younger compared to the state's non-Latino population (6). However, it is expected that within the next few years, the age difference between Latinos and non-Latinos will narrow (6). Statistics reveal that in the 2015 census, 34% of Latinos are younger than 20 years and 7% of Latinos are older than 65 years (6). It is expected that as the Latino population in California ages, the demand for public services will increase. On-fifth of the Latino population will be older than 64 years by 2060 (6). Figure 1 below shows the estimated population growth in California from 2016 -2030.
Figure 1: Estimated Population Growth, California %.
Labor Force Participation and Employment
Throughout the history of California, Latinos have always been the pillar of the state's labor force (California Office of Historic Prevention 62). Latinos perform hard labor, which made the economy of sectors such as agriculture and construction to grow (62). According to the 2015 census bureau report, from 2010-2014, 67% of Latinos aged 16 years and above were part of the labor force compared to 62% of non-Latinos in the labor force (California Senate Office of Research 11). Additionally, 58% of Latinos aged 16 and above had employment compared to 55% of non-Latinos (11). White Latinos had a higher labor force participation compared to non-white Latinos (11). Also, 13% of Latinos aged 16 years and above were unemployed. Latinos are unduly overrepresented in sectors such as construction, manufacturing agriculture, service, and foodservice sectors (11). Besides, they are underrepresented in sectors such as education, finance, information, scientific, professional, and management (11).
Home Ownership and Housing Costs
According to the 2015 census bureau report, from 2010-2014, Latinos were less likely than non-Latinos to own a home (California Senate Office of Research 13). 59% of Latino households were owner-occupied and 43% of Latino households were owned by the occupant (13). Latinos represented one-fifth of homeowners in California (13). Concerning homeowners and renters, Latinos had lower housing costs compared to non-Latinos (13). In large urban counties, 44% of Latino households were owned by an occupant (13). Homeownership rates were higher in suburbs with 52% of Latino homeowners (13). In rural areas, Latino homeownership rates were 49% (13).
How Latinos Have Helped to Shape Modern-Day America
Latinos in California have helped to shape California. Bhardwaj (1) interviewed Elana, a waitress in California who talked about how Latinos have helped to shape California in the contemporary era. According to Elana, California is run by Latinos in sectors such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, and healthcare. Elana added that if Latinos were to go back to their home country, then everything in California would come to a halt (Bhardwaj 1). As mentioned in the section of Latino immigration to California, a discussion of how Latinos helped to boost the economy in areas such as mining, railroads, construction, and agriculture was provided. Undoubtedly, the labor workforce from the Latino population has contributed to the boost in California's economy.
The ethnic composition of Latinos has changed significantly in California. From the 1500s until today, Latinos remain to be the largest cultural group in California. Based on research, it is clear that the Latino population in California is diverse. Mexicans are the ethnic group that primarily dominates the Latino populace in the state. Overall, the great diversity of Latinos in California presents its integration in American society.
Bhardwaj, Ash. "How Mexicans helped create the California you love today." Adventure.com. 2019. Accessible at https://adventure.com/mexicans-california-san-diego-history/
California Senate Office of Research. "A statistical picture of Latinos in California 2017 update." 2017. Accessible at https://latinocaucus.legislature.ca.gov/sites/latinocaucus.legislature.ca.gov/files/forms/Statistical%20Picture%20of%20Latinos%20in%20California%20-%202017%20Update.pdf
California Office of Historic Prevention. "Latinos in Twentieth Century California: National Register of Historic Places Context Statement." 2015. Accessible at http://www.ohp.parks.ca.gov/pages/1054/files/latinosmpdf_illustrated.pdf
Calisphere. "California cultures: Hispanic Americans." Accessible at https://calisphere.org/exhibitions/t10/california-cultures-hispanic-americans/
Flores, Antonio. "How the U.S. Hispanic population is changing." Pew Research Center. Accessible at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/18/how-the-u-s-hispanic-population-is-changing/
Jennewein, Chris. "California ranked as America's most diverse state." Times of San Diego. 2017. Accessible at https://timesofsandiego.com/politics/2017/09/19/california-ranked-as-americas-most-diverse-state/
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