U.S. Hispanic births overtake immigration: study

Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:33pm EDT
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PHOENIX (Reuters) - For the first time births have overtaken immigration as the main driver of dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population, according to a new study released on Thursday.

The Pew Hispanic Center survey found the new trend especially evident among Mexican-Americans, who account for almost two thirds of the U.S. Latino population.

Analysts said the study showed that the U.S. Latino population would continue to grow despite efforts to close the porous border with Mexico and stem illegal immigration, but that the trend would also likely lead to a diversification of Latinos, both culturally and politically.

The study, which drew on U.S. Census Bureau data and other government sources, noted the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births in the decade to 2010, while new immigrants added 4.2 million people.

"For Mexican-Americans, births were more important for their population growth during the decade than immigration," said Mark Lopez, an associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center and a co-author of the report.

"That's actually a departure from what we saw in the previous two decades," he added.

The study found growth in the Mexican-American population in the 1990s was split equally between births and new immigration, which each added 4.7 million people.

A decade earlier in the 1980s, by contrast, the Mexican-American population gained 3.1 million people through new immigration, while births added another 2.7 million.

"You could close the border completely to anyone from abroad, and the Hispanic population is going to continue to comprise a larger and larger share of the U.S. population for the next 50 to 100 years," Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University in Texas, told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>A child strains to see then President George W. Bush at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington June 26, 2008. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst</p>