Solamente Mexicanos? Patterns and sources of Hispanic diversity in U.S. metropolitan areas

Barrett A. Lee, Michael J.R. Martin, Matthew Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Rapid Hispanic growth has been a major source of increasing ethnoracial diversity in the United States. However, diversity within the Hispanic population is frequently obscured by the tendency to lump all Latinos together. Our study examines Hispanic diversity at the local level, drawing insights from the Mexican dominance, Caribbean-centric settlement, spatial assimilation, and economic opportunity perspectives. Measures of the magnitude and structure of Hispanic origin-group diversity during the 1990–2010 period are constructed for 363 metropolitan areas based on each area's shares of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Colombians, and ‘others’. We find that diversity magnitude varies markedly across metropolitan Hispanic populations. Although the most diverse metro areas lack a majority origin group, Mexicans often constitute a majority or plurality of local Latinos. Diversity levels and structures have remained relatively stable over time. In both 1990 and 2010, metro areas with more diverse, multigroup Hispanic communities are distinguished by their larger size, smaller proportion of Hispanics, location farther from Mexico and closer to the Caribbean, and greater odds of being a military hub. They also exhibit higher rates of housing construction and lower rates of agricultural and manufacturing employment. We use weighted data to show that Dominican metro dwellers experience the highest Hispanic diversity while the average Mexican lives in an area where four-fifths of all Latinos are Mexican. Overall, our results provide primary support for the Mexican dominance perspective but some support for the other three perspectives as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Science Research
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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