Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Survey on Hispanic Youth in America

The Pew Hispanic Center released a new survey Dec. 11, exploring the practices and attitudes of Hispanic youth in America.

Some of the findings are interesting for the Church, since many people have pointed out that the Catholic Church in America is becoming more and more Hispanic.

According to Pew, a majority of Hispanics — 60% — say they are Catholic. Among young Hispanics, 56% say they are Catholic, and among second- and third-generation young Hispanics, 49% identify themselves as Catholic.

“Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America” looks at values, social behaviors, family characteristics, economic well-being, educational attainment and labor force outcomes of Hispanics ages 16-25.

It is an age, the survey states, when young people “make choices that — for better and worse — set their path to adulthood.”

“For this particular ethnic group, it is also a time when they navigate the intricate, often porous borders between the two cultures they inhabit — American and Latin American,” the report says.

The survey was based on interviews with 2,012 Hispanics 16 years old and older, conducted Aug. 5-Sept. 16.

It points out that Hispanics are the largest and youngest minority group in the United States.

Pew finds that Hispanics 16 and older generally rate career success higher than they rate religion, having children, being married or being wealthy. In answer to the question, “How important is each to your personally,” 85% said ‘being successful in a career,” while 56% said “living a religious life.”

As in many categories, there are differences between foreign-born Hispanics and first-, second-, and third-generation Hispanics. Six-in ten foreign-born young Hispanics say living a religious life is very important, as opposed to 40% of third-generation Hispanics.

The survey also points out that Hispanics are very similar to the overall population of the U.S. in their frequency of attending religious services. Among youths, 36% of Hispanics ages 16-25 say they attend religious services weekly. Among young Hispanics, immigrants attend church services more regularly than do the native born, the survey finds. Church attendance falls off most steeply among third-generation Hispanics, it says. Nineteen percent of them say they never attend.

Pew hints at a connection between the main language of particular Hispanic groups and their religious practices and other attitudes. “Two-thirds (67%) of Spanish-dominant young Latinos say they are Catholic, while only 57% of bilingual and only 47% of English-dominant young Latinos say the same.”

On social issues, the survey finds that young Hispanics, like Hispanics in general, tend to be more conservative when it comes to abortion, same-sex “marriage” and unmarried women having children.

There are differences, though. Among young Hispanics, 65% of those born outside the U.S. say abortion should be illegal, while only 58% of second-generation young Latinos hold that view.

Language also seems to play a role in views on abortion: “More than seven-in-ten (71%) of young Hispanics who predominantly speak Spanish say they oppose abortion.”

Perhaps more troubling is the finding that Hispanic youth are “more tolerant of teen sex within a serious relationship or of teen sex that involves using” contraception. National Catholic Register

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