The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires federal agencies to use a minimum of two ethnicities in collecting and reporting data: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino. OMB defines "Hispanic or Latino" as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
People who identify with the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” are those who classify themselves in one of the specific Hispanic or Latino categories listed on the decennial census questionnaire and various Census Bureau survey questionnaires – “Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano” or ”Puerto Rican” or “Cuban” – as well as those who indicate that they are “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
The 2010 Census question on Hispanic origin included five separate response categories and one area where respondents could write in a specific Hispanic origin group. The first response category was intended for respondents who do not identify as Hispanic. The remaining response categories (“Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano”; “Puerto Rican”; “Cuban”; and “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin”) and write-in answers can be combined to create the OMB category of Hispanic.
U.S. federal government agencies must adhere to standards issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which specify that race and Hispanic origin (also known as ethnicity) are two separate and distinct concepts. These standards generally reflect a social definition of race and ethnicity recognized in this country, and they do not conform to any biological, anthropological, or genetic criteria. The standards include two minimum categories for data on ethnicity: "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino." Persons who report themselves as Hispanic can be of any race and are identified as such in our data tables. The following sources provide population data on Hispanic origin and race:
The American Community Survey (ACS) has data on these groups. In the survey questionnaire, the Hispanic-origin question obtained write-in responses of Hispanic subgroups other than the major groups of Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Ricans. Persons with other Hispanic origins (e.g.,Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Argentinean) were able to write in their specific origin group. The Census Bureau's code list contains over 30 Hispanic or Latino subgroups.
You can access the American Community Survey 1-year estimates for a population of 65,000 or more, 3-year estimates for a population of 20,000 or more, and 5-year estimates in American Factfinder. Data on these groups are available in the Detailed Tables, the Subject Tables, and the Selected Population Profiles.
This is the same approach we use in the decennial census. For the 2010 Census, Summary File 2 [PDF 4.5 MB] allows users to access any table in the files for a particular Hispanic subgroup, provided the group meets certain population criteria for the geographic area under consideration. At present, census data provide information on geographic areas smaller than those reported in the ACS.
The Census Bureau has a long history of conducting research to improve questions and data on race and ethnicity. Since the 1970s, the Census Bureau has conducted content tests to research and improve the design and function of different questions, including questions on race and ethnicity.
For the latest information on Race and Ethnicity Research visit:
For assistance, please contact the Census Call Center at 1-800-923-8282 (toll free) or visit ask.census.gov for further information.