Unwarranted hyperbole about Hispanic fertility rate


Some highlights of a nuanced talk in San Antonio recently on Hispanic demography by Emilio Parrado of the University of Pennsylvania:

The Hispanic fertility rate is higher than it has been for non-Hispanics but has never been such to have warranted all those fears of the dawning of the Third World on this side of the border. These fears supposed, wrongly, that immigrants are too dissimilar and that generations coming after fail to assimilate.

The Hispanic fertility rate, among both native-born and immigrant women, has been declining. Rates decline even more generation to generation in families started by immigrants. But the Hispanic fertility rate is significantly affected — upward — by levels of migration. And there is the real payday implication in this talk. If immigration can be correlated to economic growth, as many experts propose, the question before us is whether cutting off or limiting migration can lead us to look more like Japan, which shuns immigration and has been trying to shake off economic stagnation for the last several years.

“If immigration is a constant in economic growth and they don’t come from Mexico, where are they (going to come) from?,” Parrado asked. Or as Diana Furchgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute explained in a report in February: “Immigrants increase economic efficiency by reducing labor shortages in low- and high-skilled markets because their educational backgrounds fill holes in the native-born labor market.”

It’s something to keep in mind as Congress mulls immigration reform. Aggressive pushback has already begun. It’s something to keep in mind also if the United States’ fertility rate ever mimics that of Japan. Some have noted that though the children of immigrants tend to fare better economically than their immigrant parents, the third generation stalls. This is not a failure of assimilation; it’s a sign that American upward mobility is broken and immigrant offspring are not immune.

Parrado came at the invitation of the University of Texas, San Antonio College of Public Policy, specifically its demography department. His talk was titled “Hispanic Fertility, Immigration and Race in the 21st Century.” He is a professor of sociology and is much published on Hispanic immigration and its consequences.

He is not saying that Hispanic population growth hasn’t been significant and won’t continue to be. He’s saying that to the extent it has been, it has been spurred substantially by immigration and that it never was so high overall to warrant all the hyperbole about the teeming hordes invading. Hispanic women on average have between 2.0 and 2.3 children. The replacement rate is 2.1.

Fertility rates for women of Mexican origin tend to be higher, for the U.S.-born among them lower than for immigrants. And there’s some evidence that, as with all other groups, many of these babies were unintended. As high as 16 percent for Hispanics. So, if those who rail about too many Hispanic babies are in the same camp as those trying to limit reproductive health services (Planned Parenthood clinics in the crosshairs just about everywhere these days), there’s a lot of cross-purpose activity going on there.

The bottom line is that Hispanics have more babies than others because, as a group, we tend to be younger. This means more women in child-bearing years. This is not so much something to fear as embrace if you care about economic growth. And the key here is not just education but telling new immigrants — by offering a path to citizenship — that they are indeed “us,” not the alien“them.”

© 2013 San Antonio Express-News

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • Too much paranoia about kids alone in parks

    A couple of weeks ago, the Debra Harrell story made national headlines. Harrell was arrested in North Augusta, S.C., and charged with a felony for letting her 9-year-old daughter play at a park while Harrell worked a shift at a local McDonald’s. Now, it has happened again, in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where a mother was charged with child neglect after letting her son go to a park by himself.

  • Our blind spot about guns

    If we had the same auto-fatality rate today that we had in 1921, by my calculations we would have 715,000 Americans dying annually in vehicle accidents.

  • ’Too big to fail’ equals ‘too eager to borrow’

    Four years ago this month, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category