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Are rich Latinos getting richer, while poor Latinos get poorer?

Getty Images

Getty Images

Here’s a cheery statistic that you may have missed: The wealthiest 1 percent now control 39 percent of the world’s wealth, and their share is likely to grow in the coming years.

What this means is that while you were digging out from the Great Recession — or are still digging out — multimillionaires coasted through just fine. And the gap between the uber-wealthy and the rest of us is the widest it has been in about a half century.

But is the same true in the Latino community? Are rich Latinos leaving poor Latinos in the dust?

Well, there’s a bit of apples-to-oranges here, but so far, it doesn’t seem that the gap among Latinos is growing as quickly as the chasm between the upper classes and everyone else.

Upscale Latinos account for 29 percent of the U.S. Latino population and hold 40 percent of Latino spending power. That doesn’t seem too egregious.

Balancing those richest 29 percent is the 25 percent of Latinos who live in poverty. As such, Latino income distribution seems to be a little more of a bell curve than the jagged graph that indicates income distribution for the overall U.S. population.

Keep in mind, however, that upscale Latinos are defined as those households that have annual incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 (or what the Wal-Mart heirs spend on brunch). Also note that the poverty rate for Hispanics is higher than it is for the general population.

Yes, I’d like to think that income disparity isn’t such a big problem among Latinos because of our strong sense of community, or because we’re somehow more ethical, or due to the fact that many of us come from third-world countries where wealth inequality is a blatant source of injustice.

But while those may be factors, it’s more likely that there’s just not enough money in the Latino community to create a subclass of rich ogres.

Perhaps that day is coming. Already, marketers and advertisers are going after those financially secure Latinos who can “provide lifetime value and upside opportunities for many high-end luxury brands.”  

So maybe it’s just a matter of time before a cash-loaded Latino does something truly crass… like buy a bunch of gold iPods or build a 90,000-square-foot home or write his name in the ground so that it can be seen from outer space. 

But I hope not.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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