Cultural, demographic, educational, and economic characteristics Chapter uri icon


  • THE LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY IS A DYNAMIC region characterized by pervasive Spanish and Mexican influences, contrasting historic and 21stcentury ways of life, and ongoing and expanding cultural and commercial exchanges across its border with Mexico. The population of the region is younger than that of Texas (almost half are younger than 24 years old) and predominantly Hispanic (87%). Spanish is spoken in more than three-quarters of homes. Few of these young people finish high school (29% to 46% have less than a ninth-grade education), and the percentages earning associates, bachelors, or graduate or professional degrees are in the single digits. The economy of the Lower Rio Grande Valley has evolved from one of frontier ranching to a modern, service-based economy fueled by a growing population, tourism, a manufacturing base in northern Mexico, and increases in U.S.Mexico commerce. Employment is based about 30% in services, 25% in trades, 25% in government, and 20% in manufacturing, construction, and transportation; however, unemployment remains high, in April 2004 ranging from 9.2% to 16.7% in the four counties. Per capita income was lower in Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito and McAllenEdinburg-Mission than in any other metropolitan areas in 2000 (as low as 44% of average U.S. per capita income), leaving from 42% to 59% of children living in poverty. If educational attainment remains low and unemployment remains high, challenges to achieving a better standard of living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are expected to grow as the population expands

author list (cited authors)

  • Mier, N., Flores, I., Robinson, J., & Millard, A. V.

complete list of authors

  • Mier, N||Flores, I||Robinson, JRC||Millard, AV

editor list (cited editors)

  • Day, S.

Book Title

  • Nourishing the Future: The case for community-based nutrition research in the lower Rio Grande Valley

publication date

  • January 2004