America's assimilating Hispanics

A 2007 Pew study of 14,000 Latino adults showed that while just 23% of immigrants report being able to speak English very well, “fully 88% of their U.S.-born adult children report that they speak English very well. Among later generations of Hispanic adults, the figure rises to 94%.”

All of this follows the traditional three-generation model of linguistic assimilation that characterized European immigrants in the last century. Typically, English is the dominant language of the second generation, and by the fourth generation fewer than a quarter can still speak the immigrant tongue.

Educational progress among Latino immigrants is also evident, and it too fits a pattern shown by previous ethnic newcomers. Nearly half (47%) of foreign-born Hispanics lack a high-school diploma, but that number falls to 17% among their offspring. And 21% of second-generation Hispanics are college graduates, compared with 11% of foreign-born Hispanics residing in the U.S.

Latino immigrants who have been in the U.S. for three decades or more are also more likely than recent arrivals to own a home, live in a family with an income above the federal poverty line and marry outside of their ethnic group—all common measures of assimilation. …