New Survey: Influx Of Hispanics Displeases Some State Residents

August 26, 1997

By DAVID WILLIAMSON
UNC-CH News Services


CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolinians have mixed emotions about Hispanics migrating to the state, according to a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill survey.

A third of those polled approved of the influx of Spanish speakers, 42 percent disliked it and 20 percent said they were unsure.

Staff and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institute for Research in Social Science and School of Journalism and Mass Communication conducted the poll, released Tuesday (Aug. 26). It involved telephone interviews with 727 randomly selected adult state residents.

"Education and household income make a difference in whether North Carolinians perceive Hispanic migration to North Carolina to be good or bad for the state," said Dr. Beverly Wiggins, associate director for research development at the institute. "In general, those with more education and those with higher incomes were more likely to say the migration is good."

For example, 41 percent of respondents from households enjoying an income of $50,000 or more approved of the trend, while 29 percent of those in households earning less than $30,000 approved. Forty percent of people with some college education thought the migration was good, compared to 25 percent of those with no college.

Native North Carolinians were less likely to welcome the newcomers than state residents who came from elsewhere: 48 percent vs. 31 percent.

Fifty-four percent thought people who lived near them would disapprove of Hispanics moving into their neighborhood, and a third thought neighbors would be indifferent. Only 5 percent thought neighbors would like it, and 9 percent were unsure.

"Whites were more likely than blacks -- 55 percent to 48 percent -- to say their neighbors would dislike Hispanics moving nearby," Wiggins said.

More than a third of respondents believed no government funds should be used to offer services in Spanish, while almost two-thirds felt the government should offer such services. Almost four of five respondents said Hispanics were either extremely hard-working or somewhat hard-working. Fourteen percent were not sure about the Hispanic work ethic, and 8 percent said such people were not so industrious.

"It appears that North Carolinians' mixed feelings about the increased in-migration of Hispanics to the state are not based on a stereotype of Hispanics as lazy or unworthy," Wiggins said. "Rather the reluctance of some to support services for migrants may be part of a more general reaction against what is seen as the increasing burden of taxes. There also might be an aversion to taking on a group that is viewed as needy and likely to require more tax-funded services."

Opposition to using tax dollars to provide government services in Spanish was strongest among Republicans -- 42 percent vs. 26 percent of Democrats -- whites and those with no college education, she said. The youngest adults were almost twice as likely as the oldest to support at least some services in Spanish, 83 percent vs. 48 percent.

UNC-CH researchers and students gathered information for the Spring 1997 Carolina Poll in March. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percent for the total sample and larger for comparisons between groups.

- 30 -

Note: Wiggins can be reached at 919) 966-2350.
Contact: David Williamson


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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