Hispanics’ social, economic, and political well-being depends crucially on opportunities to earn a living, to contribute to and share in national prosperity, and to become empowered socially and politically. In short, the integration pathways of newcomers, the economic prospects of the emerging second generation, and the social mobility of established residents together will shape the future of Hispanics in the United States. While in some respects the Hispanic experience mirrors that of other immigrant groups, there are important differences between the economic and demographic profile of the United States now and a century ago, when previous immigration flows reached their historical peak. In particular, three significant conditions existing today in the United States will color the Hispanic experience in the decades to come: the changing social contract, evolving economic trends, and the aging of the white majority. In addition, the historical tendency for Hispanic immigrants to cluster regionally and in urban ethnic neighborhoods has changed; Hispanics today are transforming the face of American cities and towns as they disperse to new destinations across the nation. Accompanying these new trends is the evolution of Hispanic voices in the nation’s political arenas.
America’s social contract has become more conservative over the last 25 years. As a result, safety nets that protect children and families have