Although they physically look and have Latin surnames, a total of five million Hispanics do not consider themselves as "Hispanic" or "Latino," according to a report released by the Pew Research Center, written by Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic and Global Migration and Demography research; Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, senior researcher; and Gustavo López, research analyst. The report says that due to the process of integration in the United States, their cultural identity faded over time.

As presented by the research, 18% of Americans identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic. The document is supported by two national surveys conducted by Pew in 2015, where in-depth interviews were conducted with Hispanics who do not feel as such.

According to Pew, third-generation Latinos are losing their "Hispanic identity" over time if they are born in the US with parents also born in the United States and immigrant grandparents, but Latinos who came to the US from Latin America or Spain, as well as those born in the United States with at least one immigrant parent, maintain a high percentage of Latino identity, with 97% and 92%, respectively. This means that first- and second-generation Hispanics still feel identified with the culture.

Pew believes that this is because there is an increase in marriage rates between races. In 1980, 931,000 Latinos married someone outside their ethnic group, and in 2015 that figure rose to 2.9 million, outnumbering whites and African-Americans in the selection of interracial couples.

The study confirms that talking about cultural heritage and celebrating it is an important influence when it come to ethnic identity. In November Pew Research Center also reported that the population of Spanish-speaking Latinos born in the metro areas of the Unites States in ages 5 and older has decreased. 

Pew questioned if speaking Spanish or having a Spanish last name makes one Hispanic. Bringing to the table what happened during a debate in the 2016 presidential campaign, when Republican candidate U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio showed curiosity whether Ted Cruz, another senator and GOP candidate, spoke Spanish. 

Even though some say that someone is “more Latino” if they speak Spanish than someone who does not speak Spanish, the analysis shows that seven-in-ten (71%) Latino adults say speaking Spanish is not required to be considered Latino. And among U.S.-born Latinos, higher shares say the same: 84% of second-generation Latinos and 92% of third or higher generation Latinos (the group farthest from their family’s immigrant roots) say speaking Spanish does not make someone Latino.