The Optimistic Immigrant

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

05/30/2006 - An adult Latino immigrant to this country is probably employed, probably religious, probably getting by without much money or education, and probably….an optimist. While all these characteristics are routinely confirmed by surveys, the rosy outlook might surprise people who look at the tough life of the immigrant from the outside and see little cause for optimism.

But Hispanics in general, and Hispanic immigrants in particular, are more inclined than blacks or whites to take an upbeat view about one of the most enduring tenets of the American dream, the idea that each generation will do better in life than the one that preceded it.

Some 44% of all Hispanic adults and fully half of all first-generation Hispanic immigrants say that today's children in this country will grow up to be better off than people are now, according to a Pew Research Center survey. By contrast, just 33% of both whites and black hold this positive view.

This relative optimism among Hispanics is even more notable because as a group they express less satisfaction with the quality of their own lives today (64% say it's good or excellent) than do either whites (86% good or excellent) or blacks (76% good or excellent). One reason for the disparity in current satisfaction may be the relatively low weekly earnings of Hispanics in the U.S., which average only about two-thirds of weekly earnings among non-Hispanic Americans. Another might be their relative lack of education; 40% of Hispanics ages 25 and older have less than a high school degree compared with 16% of whites and 21% of blacks.

Read the full article The Optimistic Immigrant on the Pew Research Center Web site.

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