with its youthful age structure and low skill levels.11 Young, unskilled workers are especially vulnerable to business cycle fluctuations and future changes in labor market demand. Better education is the single resource that in the long run will improve the economic prospects and social integration of the burgeoning Hispanic population. Despite significant improvements in high school and college graduation rates among young Hispanics since 1980, large education gaps remain in comparison with other groups, especially for Hispanic immigrants, but the prospects of the second generation are worrisome as well (see Chapter 5).
Not only are Hispanics forging their national presence in an age of rising inequality, but they are also coming of age in an aging society. Although the Hispanic population will continue to grow through immigration, it is primarily the U.S.-born children and grandchildren of immigrants—the rising second generation and their offspring—who will define its economic and social contours (see Chapter 2).12 In 2000, children of Hispanic immigrants had a median age of just over 12 years. Thus, the