Center on Race and Social Problems

Hispanics of Mexican-Origin versus Non-Hispanics of Mexican Ancestry: Heterogeneity within the Largest Hispanic Sub-Population

Carlos Siordia, Daniel J. Delgado

Hispanics of Mexican-Origin versus Non-Hispanics of Mexican Ancestry:Heterogeneity within the Largest Hispanic Sub-Population

Carlos Siordia, Daniel J. Delgado

Publication Types: 

In the US, individuals can identify an “ethnicity” (Hispanic or non-Hispanic), a “race” (single-race or multi-race), and they can report ancestry. For those identifying a Hispanic ethnicity, they are allowed to select “origin” such as, Mexican or Venezuelan.) Latin@s1 are the largest minority group in the USA and are projected to make up about 30% of the US population by 2050. Understanding how federal agencies in the US identify individuals in the population by ethnicity, race, and ancestry may help researchers on health disparities better understand nuances in markers of social stratification.In particular, understanding ethnicity, race, and ancestry labels in Latin@s (interchangeably refer to as Hispanics) is critical because they have been linked with an epidemiologic paradox: good health profiles despite low socioeconomic status. As evidence of how important identity labels are for public health research, work has begun to highlight the complexity of using race, ethnicity, and ancestry in human genetic research  in mortality profiles, and other outcomes .Although awareness is growing, it is not widely known that Hispanics of Mexican-origin make up more than two thirds of the Hispanic population. In addition, non-experts are frequently unaware of the fact that Mexican’s racial identities can vary significantly and that non-Hispanics may claim a Mexican ancestry. The specific aim of this brief report is to broaden research on health disparities with regard to how “Mexicans” can be identified through ethnicity and ancestry. In particular, we wanted to highlight the sociodemographic and health heterogeneity within Hispanics of Mexican-origin compared to non-Hispanics of Mexican ancestry.1

We use the label “Latin@s” to identify both female (Latinas) and male (Latinos) Hispanics of any race. Previous work has highlighted controversies with the “Hispanic” label: Aguirre A & Turner JH. American Ethnicity: The Dynamics and Consequences of Discrimination. 2011; New York: McGraw-Hill.Center for


For access to the Full Report click here >>