Research Seminar/Book Launch

Thursday, June 5
10:30am – Noon
Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work
2180 Third Avenue and 119th Street

Centro Researchers to Discuss New Book:
Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium

While it is generally known that the South, particularly Central Florida, is the trendy destination for Puerto Ricans moving from other parts of the United States as well as from Puerto Rico, “what is most significant and least known is the likelihood that in just a few years, more Puerto Ricans will live in Florida than in the state of New York, the historic entry port and traditional enclave of Puerto Ricans," according to new research published by Centro.

This research, in Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium, will be discussed at a forum in the 10:30 am to Noon time slot. The research forum is one of three segments of the Puerto Rican Creativeness for Social Change and Economic Development seminar, which is free and open to the public.

Presenters will include Centro researchers: Director Edwin Meléndez, Kurt Birson, Patricia Silver, Luis O. Reyes and Harry Franqui-Rivera. The discussant is Carlos E. Santiago, an economist. Centro researcher Vargas-Ramos will moderate the forum.

While New York is still home to most Puerto Ricans, with more than one million, Florida is closely behind with nearly 850,000 and it poised to take the lead

The fast-growing Puerto Rican population in the South, West and Midwest is expected to eventually outnumber Puerto Ricans there. “When (not if) this event happens, it will mark a significant shift in the history of Puerto Ricans in the United States,” according to the introduction essay of Centro’s new book Puerto Ricans at the Dawn of the New Millennium, edited  by Edwin Meléndez and Carlos Vargas-Ramos. The book can be pre-ordered by May 28 at the Centro Store, and will also be available at the event.

Contrary to media reports attributing rapid Puerto Rican population growth in Florida to recent migration from the island, the research presented shows that internal migrants, especially those born in the United States, play a significant role in this population flow.

While many of New York’s migrants are largely leaving to Florida, they are also settling in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. In Central Florida, there is an even distribution of Puerto Ricans who were born in the United States and on the island.

As well as highlighting demographics, the book presents new research on social, economic, political and health conditions of the Puerto Rican population in the United States and it highlights the improvements and the challenges in this rapidly changing and growing community.

The findings, among other things, challenge the portrayal of Puerto Ricans as lacking socioeconomic advancement compared with other “immigrant” groups. They also find that dispersion may be contributing to better socioeconomic outcomes for stateside Puerto Ricans. Military service, for example, seems to be playing a factor in contributing to this dispersion and offering a pathway for better socioeconomic advancement for Puerto Rican youth.

In the book, Centro researchers and other contributors take a close look at the recent migration wave from Puerto Rico to the United States, which is fueled by the collapse of the island’s economy as well as its inability to reduce crime and violence. If these patterns continue, according to the introduction essay by Meléndez and Vargas-Ramos, it is likely that two-thirds of Puerto Ricans will live in this country by the end of the decade.

In 2003, there were equal numbers of Puerto Ricans, 3.8 million, living in the United States and on the island. By 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 4.97 million Puerto Ricans living stateside and 3.52 million Puerto Ricans residing on the island, representing a population swing of nearly 1.5 million over nearly a decade. The migration wave rivals the magnitude of the Great Migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States during the 1950s.

The researchers also analyzed Puerto Rican migration from state to state. In the last decade, over a million stateside Puerto Ricans migrated across state lines, which researchers described as even “more stunning.” This pattern of migratory behavior is being fueled by the movement among those born in the United States and not by island born or recent migrants. Seven out of 10 Puerto Ricans moving to another state during the last decade were born in the United States.

Articles deal with a range of topics from issues impacting Puerto Rican migration including economics, education, jobs, military service, health and political and civic engagement.

The book is organized into three sections covering: Population Movements and New Settlements; Education and Economic Opportunity after the Great Recession; and Old Problems, New Challenges.

Chapters are: “Puerto Rican Migration in the 21st Century: Is There a Brain Drain?” by Birson; “A Brief Look at Internal Migration of Puerto Ricans in the United States: 2001-2011” by Juan Carlos García-Ellín; “Patterns of Puerto Rican Settlement and Segregation in the United States, 1990-2010” and “Puerto Rican Political and Civic Engagement in the United States,” both by Vargas-Ramos; “Puerto Ricans in Florida” and “The Development of a New Puerto Rican Diaspora in the Southern United States,” both by Patricia Silver; “Puerto Rican Economic Resiliency after the Great Depression” by Birson and Meléndez; “Rebuilding the Puerto Rican Education Pipleline for a Multilingual and Multicultural Future” by Luis O. Reyes; “School, Work and the Transition of Puerto Rican Youth to Adulthood” by Meléndez, Anne Visser and Birson; “The Asset Profile of Puerto Ricans and Other Latinos after the Great Recession: 2008-2010” by Birson, Ramon Borges and Kofi Ampaabeng; “The Well-being of Puerto Rican Veterans and Service Members and Their Place within the Diaspora” by Franqui-Rivera; “Lessons from the European Demographic Winter for Puerto Rico” by Alejandro Macarrón Larumbe; “Asthma and Diabetes within the Puerto Rican Population” by Anna Rosofsky and Judith Aponte.

The seminar is part of the lineup of the Puerto Rican Creativeness for Social Change and Economic Development forum, which will run from 9 am to 2:30 pm. June 5, and it is also open to the public.

To attend the forum and research seminar, please RSVP at

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