Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

October 1997


Published in Great Plains Research 7:2 (Fall 1997). Copyright © 1997 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


In this paper we explore two potential sources of variation in the life experiences of Latinos in the United States: region of the country in which a group resides and national origin. Although scholars have recognized the theoretical importance of these two variables, few studies have empirically examined the relationship of region of the country and national origin to socioeconomic variables such as occupation, education, and income or to cultural variables such as bilingualism and English language proficiency. Data from the 1990 U.S. Census 5% Public Use Micro Sample show that both the social structural and cultural experiences of Latinos in regions where they are few in number, such as the Great Plains, is significantly different than those of Latinos living in other parts of the country. Findings strongly suggest l) that inferences drawn from historically Latino regional samples will not be valid for populations living in other areas of the country, and 2) that inferences based on the Latino population at large obscure substantial variation in the experiences of specific national origin Latino subgroups.