Latino or Hispanic?: The Sociodemographic Correlates of Panethnic Label Preferences among US Latinos/Hispanics


Despite different origins, “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used interchangeably to describe people with Latin American ancestry in the United States. Nevertheless, research consistently finds around half of US Latinos/Hispanics prefer one term over the other. What factors explain these differences and account for no preference at all? Drawing on the 2013 National Survey of Latinos, we find college graduates, non-Mexicans, and first- and second-generation immigrants, and respondents in the western United States have higher relative odds of preferring “Latino” over “Hispanic.” Those who identify racially as “Hispanic/Latino” also opt for “Latino,” suggesting it is associated with racialization in the US context. Conversely, gender, citizenship status, language use, and political affiliation do not explain specific panethnic label preference.. We employ several theoretical approaches to provide insight on these findings, including (neo)colonization and internal colonialism, assimilation and racialization, and consciousness-raising.

Sociological Perspectives, 64(3):365–386
Kelsey E. Gonzalez, PhD
Kelsey E. Gonzalez, PhD
Sr Data Scientist

Data Scientist; Computational Social Scientist.