What do Latinos actually think is important for creating opportunities within their communities? What issues do they hold dearly — and how can we listen and improve access to opportunities for Latinos around the country?
Nielsen, a global information and measurement company, conducted a survey in advance of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program’s America’s Future Summit to help us better understand these key issues.
Read below for five top takeaways from the survey.
Policymakers often assume that focusing on good jobs and quality education should be their top priorities, but affordable healthcare and accountable elected officials may actually be more important to unlocking opportunity.
“Affordable quality health care” and “elected officials who are held accountable for their decisions” rated highest in importance in creating equal opportunities, at 77 percent and 76 percent respectively, out of 15 factors. Those were followed closely by “safe neighborhoods” and “good jobs that offer a living wage,” both at 73 percent.
Hispanic-Americans can be dominant in English, Spanish, or both — and language may be a driver of what they think is required to unlock opportunity.
“Elected officials who are held accountable for their decisions” came in highest among English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics, at 72 percent and 75 percent, respectively. ” On the other hand, 83 percent of Spanish-dominant Hispanics, the largest number, rated “affordable quality health care” to be of critical importance.” A possible cause for this is that Spanish-dominant communities tend to be newer arrivals. English dominance signals a higher degree of assimilation and in turn provides a stronger foothold in the American cultural view that government officials can play a larger role in creating opportunity.
There are additional divisions between language communities, particularly in differing views on public transportation.
Seventy percent of Spanish-dominant Hispanics said convenient and reliable public transportation was extremely important or absolutely essential for opportunity. Yet only 49 percent of bilingual and 34 percent of English dominant Hispanics gave it that rating. Spanish dominant Hispanics are also much more likely to say safe neighborhoods are important (83 percent) than English dominant Hispanics (62 percent). This could be attributed to the changing economic opportunities for adopters of English language.
There was alignment across ethnic groups in some issues.
Ethnic groups aligned on in the importance placed on “holding elected officials accountable for their decisions,” “safe neighborhoods,” “affordable quality health care,” “good jobs with a living wage,” and “quality K-12 education,” indicating these are top priorities for all Americans in improving opportunity.
Access to quality education was important for all groups, but higher percentages of African-Americans (76 percent) and Hispanics (69 percent) cited K-12 education as critical within their groups.
Sixty-two percent of Asian Americans and whites did as well, which could be an indicator of the lack of quality education in black and Latino neighborhoods, and also the high value placed on education by black and Latino Americans.
Data like this helps us understand within our communities how we might best act to provide the community with the best chance to succeed. Clear-eyed understanding of priorities can only come from hearing directly from communities themselves. The conversation on opportunity will continue live tomorrow from Los Angeles, California. Watch the livestream of the event beginning at 12:30pm EST and follow the conversation on the Twitter using the hashtag #FutureofLatinos.