One of the stereotypical images of Thanksgiving is the large extended family gathered around the dining room table. If you wanted every day to be like Thanksgiving—at least to the extent that you can find lots of people gathered around the table to eat together—where in America should you look? One likely avenue would be to find the congressional district with the largest average household size, and that’s California’s 40th district, in the close-in suburbs of Los Angeles.
California’s 40th district has 3.93 people per household, which may not seem like that much at first glance but is significantly larger than the national average of 2.65, and way more than the lowest CD, New York’s 12th district on Manhattan, which has only 1.92 people per household. The “household” that you’re envisioning might be two parents and the proverbial 2.3 kids, but keep in mind all the other different living arrangements someone passes through over their life; it also includes, for instance, young professionals living by themselves in their 20s, senior citizens living in one- or two-person households, or families with children but only one parent present. That variety of households brings the average down to between 2 and 3 overall, and below 2 in Manhattan, where there are a lot of small apartments, a lot of 20- and 30-somethings, and not a lot of kids.
If you scanned down the list of districts with the largest average households, you’d notice one major commonality: they’re predominantly districts with a large Hispanic majority. In fact, the top eight districts in terms of largest household size are Latino-majority seats in southern California; you have to drop down to the ninth spot before you find one that isn’t in California and isn’t mostly Latino (it’s New York’s 5th, a black-plurality CD in Queens).
What’s behind that phenomenon is simply that Hispanic families are likelier to have more children; a Pew study from 2015 found that 51 percent of Hispanic mothers have three or more children (compared with 34 percent for white mothers). That’s already changing, though; the birth rate among Hispanics is declining faster than among other ethnicities, mirroring what has happened with many other immigrant groups; their first generations in America start out with high birth rates, and that rate gradually falls in line with the rest of the country as they integrate.
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