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Brookings Mountain West

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Since the early 1980s, Nevada has experienced significant demographic change. In particular, the ethnic composition of the state has become considerably more diverse. Although growth in the Asian population is one of the sources of Nevada’s growing diversity, Nevada’s Latino population has also accounted for much recent demographic and social change. Except for brief periods following the emergence of the Great Recession of 2008, the Latino population of Nevada has experienced sustained annual growth over the past two decades. Perhaps more important, much of the growth in the Latino population has been associated with immigration, principally from Mexico and other parts of Central America.

In this study, we analyze data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Decennial Census and American Community Survey to examine the drivers of Latino population growth. The first part of the paper provides an overview of the growth in Nevada’s Latino population, with a focus on the age structure and the concentration of the population in certain metropolitan areas and counties. In part two, we examine the contribution of Latin American immigration to the state’s Latino population. From there, we move to a discussion of the factors that have shaped migration flows from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador (and other parts Latin America). In so doing, our analysis allows us to consider what makes Nevada attractive as a “destination state” to immigrants. The paper concludes by exploring some of the implications of immigration and growth in the Latino population.


Demography; Hispanic Americans; Immigration; Nevada


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Regional Sociology