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Mexicans are by far the largest Hispanic-origin population in the U.S., accounting for nearly two-thirds (64%) of the U.S. Hispanic population in 2012. Hispanics of Mexican origin are also a significant portion of the U.S. population, accounting for 11% overall.
The size of the Mexican-origin population in the U.S. has risen dramatically over the past four decades as a result of one of the largest mass migrations in modern history. In 1970, fewer than one million Mexican immigrants lived in the U.S. By 2007 it reached a peak of 12.5 million. Since then, it has declined as the arrival of new Mexican immigrants has slowed significantly. Today, 35% of Hispanics of Mexican origin were born in Mexico. And while the remaining two-thirds (65%) were born in the U.S., 52% of them have at least one immigrant parent.
Before the 1980s, growth in the nation's Mexican-origin population came mostly from Hispanics of Mexican origin born in the U.S. However, from 1980 to 2000, more growth in the Mexican-origin population in the U.S. could be attributed to the arrival of Mexican immigrants. That pattern reversed from 2000 to 2010 as births surpassed immigration as the main driver of population growth.
The 11.4 million Mexican immigrants who live in the U.S. make up the single largest country of origin group by far among the nation's 40 million immigrants. The next largest foreign-born population group, from greater China at 2 million, is less than one-fifth the size of the Mexican-born population in the U.S.
Mexican immigrants comprise by far the largest share of the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S. More than half (55%) of the 11.1 million immigrants who are in the country illegally are from Mexico.
Internationally, the U.S. is far and away the top destination for immigrants from Mexico. Fully 96% of Mexicans who leave Mexico migrate to the U.S. Worldwide, nine percent of people born in Mexico live in the U.S. In addition, the U.S. has more immigrants from Mexico alone than any other country has immigrants.
The characteristics of Mexican immigrants living in the U.S. have changed over the decades. Compared with 1990, Mexican immigrants in 2011 were less likely to be male, considerably older, better educated and have been in the U.S. for longer.
This report includes demographic, income and economic characteristics of the foreign-born and native-born Mexican-origin populations in the U.S. and compares them with the characteristics of all Hispanics. It covers immigration status, language, age, marital status, fertility, regional dispersion, educational attainment, income, poverty status, health insurance and homeownership.
The report, "A Demographic Portrait of Mexican-Origin Hispanics in the United States," was written by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, research associate with the Pew Hispanic Center, and Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center. It is available at the Pew Research Center's website, www.pewresearch.org.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan source of data and analysis. It does not take advocacy positions. Its Hispanic Center, founded in 2001, seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation.