May 2, 2023 - World

Analysis: Afro Latinos have higher education rates but less financial success

Data shows Afro Latinos have higher educational attainment rates but fewer markers of financial success when compared to other Latinos.

Why it matters: An analysis of the data in a report by UCLA's Latino Policy and Politics Institute is among the first to delve into the differences and disparities between Afro Latinos and Latinos who are not Black.

  • Researchers say highlighting the differences is key to illuminating the strengths of Afro Latinos as well as to addressing the unique challenges they face.

By the numbers: Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey from 2015 to 2019 and found that:

  • 26% of Afro Latinas had a college degree by 2019, while 17.5% of other Latinas did.
  • A higher share of Afro Latino men also had a college degree compared to other Latinos.
  • Afro Latinos had higher or about the same rates of employment and labor force participation depending on gender, but lower markers of financial success. For example, the median household income for all other Latinos was $52,100, compared to $47,400 for Afro Latinos.
  • Afro Latinos had homeownership rates of 40%, versus 54% for other Latinos.

The disparities are likely a result of the racism that Black people face (think housing discrimination) in addition to the disparities Hispanics face, such as access to banking, researchers say.

What they're saying: Nancy López, an Afro Dominican sociologist at the University of New Mexico who co-authored the study, says the findings resonated with her personally.

  • "In my experience teaching in universities for the last 30 years it has always been the case that relative to others — particularly white men, but also other Latinas — I was paid less," she tells Axios Latino.
  • She says it's extremely important to highlight all the factors that could differentiate Latino subgroups to bring those disparities to light.
  • "We have to make sure that when we talk about Latinos we are no longer talking about the monolith, but doing that deep dive by race, by national origin, by gender, by nativity … an intersectionality that recognizes the various axes of inequality."

Between the lines: The authors stress Afro Latinos may be undercounted in the census, in part because the question on race defines Blackness as having origins in "racial groups of Africa," so people more directly descended from Black Caribbean communities may feel they can't tick the box.

  • They suggest the census should ask about physical characteristics such as skin color as well as ancestry.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau is considering combining racial and ethnic categories in the 203o count, but the UCLA researchers say that could make it harder to highlight differences between Latinos who are not Black and Afro Latinos.

The intrigue: Nearly 80% of Afro Latinos are U.S. born, compared to less than of 65% of other Latinos, and they skew younger too.

  • That could make them voting forces going forward, the authors say.

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