People march with an inflatable effigy of Donald Trump on May 1 in Los Angeles. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Donald Trump has ascended to national prominence at a time when Hispanic households are advancing financially much more quickly than white households.

These economic and political trends might be just a coincidence. On the other hand, there is evidence that many of the Republican presidential nominee's white supporters are concerned that their racial group's dominant economic position in American society could be threatened. A recent analysis of polling data by The Washington Post shows that many of Trump's supporters are worried that whites are "losing out" to other racial groups.

The typical Hispanic household's income has jumped 11.8 percent in the past two years, according to Census Bureau data published Tuesday. The change in average income for the typical white household over the same period was just 2.5 percent.


Despite this rapid gain, Hispanic families are still substantially poorer than the general population. The typical Hispanic household took in just over $45,000 last year, compared to nearly $63,000 for the typical white household.

Asians have long been the wealthiest racial group, and their economic advantage has increased recently. Between 2013 and last year, the typical Asian household's income increased 4.8 percent, more rapidly than the national average.


Although white households remain much wealthier, on average, than Hispanic households, it is plausible that the recent decline in white households' relative advantage might be connected with Trump's success. Recent research suggests that many white Americans are less concerned about how much they have as about whether their advantage over other racial and ethnic groups is secure.

For example, psychologists at Stanford recently conducted an experiment in which they told a group of white subjects that white households' incomes were declining relative to other households' incomes. Those subjects were more likely to support the tea party than subjects who were told that other groups' incomes were in decline.

A poll by The Washington Post and ABC News in March found that Trump's supporters are much more likely than Republicans who supported other candidates to believe that white Americans are "losing out to blacks and Hispanics" because of preferences for those groups.

Trump's appeal is not simply a product of economic trends over the past couple of years. For instance, Republicans' attitudes on immigration have been hardening for a long time.

In 2000, 38 percent of Republicans described immigrants as "a burden" to society, according to the Pew Research Center. That figure has steadily increased, to 57 percent in a Pew poll last year.


Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at Pew, pointed to a couple of reasons for the improvement in Hispanic households' finances. A recovering economy has finally begun to create more demand for labor, which Hispanic households have supplied. Hispanic adults are somewhat more likely to work than other groups, so they have particularly benefited from recent declines in the unemployment rate.

At the same time, Hispanics are likely to live in places where the economy has recovered more quickly in general, such as Texas and the Western states, Lopez said. Meanwhile, more and more Hispanics who were raised in the United States by immigrant parents are now coming of age. As they graduate from college, they are improving the population's overall capacity to earn.

Lopez also noted that in a recent Pew poll, 81 percent of Hispanics expected their personal finances to improve. The figure for the general public was just 61 percent.

"This is all coming together and pointing in the same direction," Lopez said.

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