Of all the population movements in Puerto Rico during the 20th century, the immigrationimmigration: Population movement consisting of the arrival of people to a country or region other than their homeland in order to establish themselves there. of foreigners has been the least studied due to the fact that its numbers were small until quite recently. In 1940, for example, there were 13,117 persons born abroad living in Puerto Rico, the equivalent of less than one percent of the total population of Puerto Rico. Of this group, a little more than half (6,639) were from the United States and some 2,500 were from Spain. The rest came mainly from the West Indies, from some European countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany), from the rest of Latin America, and from Canada (Table 1) .
As a consequence of the economic changes that took place in Puerto Rico beginning in 1940, the flow of persons born abroad toward Puerto Rico has increased consistently and at a fast pace. From 1940 to 1970, a considerable increase was recorded in the number of persons coming in from the United States, from 8,078 to 134,437. A portion of these numbers was made up of the children of Puerto Rican emigrants, born in the United States, who have immigrated to Puerto Rico in recent decades. On the other hand, political events in Cuba during the1960s produced a mass emigrationemigration: The departure of persons from their place of origin to settle elsewhere., and thousands of Cubans immigrated to Puerto Rico. According to the census of 1970, 26,000 persons born in Cuba were living in Puerto Rico, in contrast to 1960, when there were only 1,092. For a variety of reasons, the Dominican population living in Puerto Rico also grew significantly, from 1,765 persons in 1960 to 6,407 in 1970.
In demographic matters, the resident Cuban population is the group that differs most from the native Puerto Rican population. It is an older population, with a marked deficit in men and a greater proportion of married people. Common-law marriage is practically non-existent among these Cubans, and the immense majority of the heads of family are men. Cuban women resident in Puerto Rico have a lower birthrate than comparable groups. On the other hand, Dominicans located in Puerto Rico are the group that most resembles the Puerto Rican population from the demographic point of view.
Among the four populations groups compared, Cubans stand out in various educational areas, while Puerto Ricans occupy the least advantageous position. The median number of years of schooling completed by Cubans was a little more than 12 years, a number similar to that of the group from the United States residing in Puerto Rico. Dominicans had a median of 8.3 years of schooling completed, while Puerto Ricans had only 6.5 years. In other words, the average level of education of adults from Cuba and the United States residing in Puerto Rico was almost double that of native Puerto Ricans.
The great majority of US, Cuban, and Dominican immigrants were engaged in services, especially Cubans, among whom this was a source of work for some 70 percent. Trade was the principal activity of Cubans, as some 37 percent were so employed. Within this category, retail trade was the most important item, employing 28 percent. For Dominicans, trade was also the principal source of work, though construction and professional services were also activities of importance. For people from the United States, the most important branch of economic activity was professional services, after which followed transportation and trade. These immigrant groups contrast in this respect with native Puerto Ricans, for whom manufacturing was the greatest source of employment.
In regard to occupations, there were also marked differences between immigrants resident in Puerto Rico and the native Puerto Rican population, as well as between the three immigrant groups. For the latter, a greater proportion of their population was employed in white collar jobs. For Puerto Ricans, that number was 35 percent, compared with 44 percent for Dominicans, and 55 percent for people from the United States. However, among Cubans, the proportion in white collar jobs reached 78 percent, more than twice the corresponding figure for Puerto Ricans. The most common occupations among the foreign populations were the professions, sales, and office work, while among Puerto Ricans, these were operating machines, office work, and services (other than domestic service).
In relation to income, Cubans appear to be the most favored group, while Puerto Ricans occupy the lowest position. Among persons 14 years old or more who were receiving an income, Cubans stand out above the other groups, with a median annual income of $4,458. This figure is 40 percent higher than that of Dominicans, 60 percent greater than that of people from the United States, and 123 percent above the median income of the native Puerto Rican population, which was only $1,197.
One of the clearest and most obvious facts that arise from the analysis is that Cubans resident in Puerto Rico constitute a select group that is distinguished markedly from the native population of Puerto Rican origin, as well as from people from the United States and the Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico. Despite being a numerically small group, their great visibility and impact on the Puerto Rican community are due, on the one hand, to their concentration in the metropolitan area of San Juan, where almost 85 percent of them reside, and on the other, to their socioeconomic and demographic attributes.
The census datacensus data: Statistical information in the population and housing census. makes it clear that Cuban residents in Puerto Rico constitute an elite that stands out clearly in Puerto Rican society. In regard to Dominican immigrants in Puerto Rico, even though they resemble the native population of Puerto Rican descent demographically, they differ significantly from the latter in their socioeconomic characteristics, and they constitute another select group in Puerto Rican society.
Autor: José L Vázquez Calzada
Published: September 15, 2010.
Version: 06082107 Rev. 1