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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

39

The graph below shows that the percentage of PTA out of the total number of economically 

active Latin American immigrants to the United States has increased since the last census but 

continues to be well below the percentage for US nationals (CEPAL, 2008).

  

 

GRAPH 8 

UNITED STATES: PERCENTAGE OF PROFESSIONALS AND TECHNICIANS IN 

ECONOMICALLY ACTIVE POPULATIONS, BY REGION OF BIRTH, 1990, 2000 AND 2004 

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

1990

2000

CPS2004

Latin America

Caribbean

Central America 

Mexico

South America

United States

 

Source: 1990 and 2000 National Population Censuses and 2004 Current Population Survey. 

Notes: For the 1990 Census, Central America does not include Belize and South America does not include Brazil; for 

the 2000 Census, South America does not include Paraguay and Uruguay. Data from the 2004 Current Population 

Survey include Mexicans in the Central America group. 

 

 

Regarding education level, it can be stated that “in Latin America, the percentage of 

immigrants 15 years of age and older born in the region who have finished 12 years of education and 

more, varies significantly according to the country of destination” (CEPAL, 2008:120), with Chile 

showing the highest percentage (60%). 

Migrants traveling to the United States are fairly heterogeneous in terms of education 

levels. South American and Caribbean nationals show an obvious advantage in terms of education, 

compared with other groups of immigrants (see Table 5 which shows that in 2004, 81% of South 

Americans and 70% of Caribbean nationals had finished high school. In fact, the percentage of 

individuals born in South America and living in the US who have finished college or more (30%) is 

higher than the percentage of US citizens under this category (28%) (CEPAL, 2008:138). On the 

contrary, while Central Americans and Mexicans show higher numbers of populations of productive 

age, their education profiles are significantly lower (less than 40% have finished high school, 

according to data for 2004). 

Thus, “the widespread notion that the socio-labor profile of immigrants is polarized between 

those with a high level of education who are employed in management, science, and technology 

positions and those who concentrate in low productivity economic sub-sectors (the highest numbers), 

can also be applied to the Latin American and Caribbean community” (Martínez, 2003).

  

 



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