Immigrants and Spanish City Names
There is a strong demographic association between Spanish place-names and the share of the Hispanic population in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. After controlling for county fixed effects and a host of observable variables, two otherwise observably-similar and geographically-proximate communities that only differ by Spanish-name origin can be expected to contain a share of Hispanics that differs by 3 percentage points. This implies an increment in the population of Hispanic origin of 10 percent in Spanish-named towns. The association between Spanish toponymy and Hispanic demographics was already strong 40 years ago. However, recent Latino immigrants were also more likely to locate in places with Spanish names. Conventional naming patterns had strong social impacts 150 years after the Mexican-American War and subsequent acquisition of these territories. These results with respect to a seemingly irrelevant local attribute, toponymy, underline the historical resilience of culturally- driven demographic settlement patterns.