Introduction: This study examines demographic and socioeconomic factors of racial/ethnic groups in New York City between 1990 and 2009 – particularly Latino educational attainment in public school.
Methods: Data on Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Cases in the dataset were weighted and analyzed to produce population estimates.
Results: Several trends emerge about the school-aged population overall in terms of absolute numbers and relative proportions. The school-aged Latino and non-Hispanic Black populations increased greatly between 1990 and 2000, by more than 30% for Latinos and about 10% for non-Hispanic Blacks. In the same period the school-aged non-Hispanic White population decreased by about 5%. Between 2000 and 2009, however, the school-aged Latino population decreased slightly. The school-aged non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White populations, however, moved in opposite directions: in 2009 there were fewer school-aged non-Hispanic Black individuals and more school-aged non-Hispanic White individuals than there were in 1990. The school-aged Asian population has been increasing during this period. Since 2000, Latinos have been the largest group among the school-aged population of New York City, overtaking the non-Hispanic Black population which had been slightly larger in 1990. In 2009, Latinos were still the largest group at over a third of the school-aged population. Non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites are now approximately the same proportion of the school-aged population.
Discussion: Among foreign-born middle school students in 2009, Colombian, Dominican, and Ecuadorian students were more likely to have arrived within the past five years. Among foreign-born high school students in 2009, nearly half of the Dominican students had arrived within the past five years. Foreign-born Mexican and Ecuadorian high school students were mostly likely to have been in the United States more than five years. Two-thirds of all domestic-born Mexican students speak only English or English very well, compared with rates above 80% for other Latino subgroups. Foreign-born Mexican and Dominican students report lower levels of English proficiency (about 40%) compared to their Colombian and Ecuadorian counterparts (about 60%). The status dropout rate (percentage of individuals aged 16 to 24 without a diploma and not in school) for Latinos is nearly 20%, and over 30% for foreign-born Latinos. Males generally have higher status dropout rates than females.