The Latino population of Kansas is a complex one. Although mostly Mexican in origin, it has grown through native births and migration. By 1970, when the U.S. census began counting Latinos, there were 46,760 Latinos that comprised
2.1 percent of the total population. By 2000 the Latino population had grown to 188,252 persons, making up 7 percent of Kansas population. The U.S. census estimates that the Latino population now constitutes 8.4 percent (224,152 people) of the total state population.51
The growth rate of the Latino population has been increasing. In the decade between 1970 and 1980 it grew by 31.2 percent; between 1980 and 1990, 52.7 percent; and between 1990 and 2000 it more than doubled. The growth rate has slowed down in the first half of the current decade: by 2005 the population had grown by only 19.1 percent.52
The Latino population has had sustained growth from child births for a long time. In 1970 the median age of the Latino population was 19.9 years of age. In 2005 that number had risen to 25 years of age, whereas that of the general population was 36.1.53
Although the Latino population has been present in Kansas for more than a century, it also shows the heavy influence of recent migration, with some 62 percent of the Latino population being born in the United States and 38 percent being foreign born. Of this foreign-born Latino population, the vast majority came to the United States in the 15 years between 1990 and 2005; only some 26 percent entered the United States before 1990. During the 1990s, 42 percent of Kansas’s Latino foreign-born population migrated to the United States. An additional 32 percent has come in the first five years of the current decade.54
This migrant Latin population is heavily Spanish-speaking 95 percent of its members speak Spanish at home; 67.2 percent report they speak English less than very well; and only 28 percent claim to speak English very well. Of this foreign-born, Spanish-speaking population, 26.3 percent is linguistically isolated; they do not have someone in their households older than 14 who can speak English very well.55
The 18-and-older Kansas Latino population shows an unequal distribution of men and women. Whereas the general Kansas population shows a slight majority of women, 50.5 percent, the Latino population is skewed heavily toward men:
53.9 percent are men and 46 percent are women. An important reason for this is the gender imbalance among migrants: of the foreign-born population, 57 percent are men and 43 percent are women.
According to the 2000 census, the Latino population of Kansas is 85.35 percent of Mexican origin,56 and 7.14 percent falls in the category of Other Hispanic or Latino. The remaining 7.5 percent shows increasing diversity. Almost 3 percent of Latinos are from the Caribbean (2.07 percent Puerto Rican; 0.75 percent Cuban; and 0.01% Dominican). A similar amount (2.9 percent) are from Central America, primarily from El Salvador, and 1.77 percent are from South America, primarily from Ecuador and Brazil. In brief, the foreign-born population is 86 percent Mexican and 14 percent from elsewhere in Latin America.