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1 in 4 Young Students Has an Immigrant Parent

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Document date: August 31, 2010
Released online: August 31, 2010

Abstract

Young Children of Immigrants: The Leading Edge of America’s Future” shows that 24 percent (8.7 million) of children under age 8 have at least one immigrant parent, double 1990’s 4.3 million. The study includes data on the number of children of immigrants in each state, as well as on the number of children whose parents come from a list of more than 130 countries.


Contact: Stu Kantor, (202) 261-5283, skantor@urban.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 31, 2010 — Children of immigrants have nearly doubled as a share of pre-K to 3rd grade students since 1990, a new Urban Institute analysis shows.

The share of children under age 8 with at least one immigrant parent stood at 24 percent in 2008, up from 13 percent in 1990. In 2008, 24 percent of children age 3–5 and 23 percent of children age 6–8 had immigrant parents. In 1990, the figure for both groups was 13 percent.

Some 8.7 million children under age 8 have at least one foreign-born parent, double 1990’s 4.3 million. The number of children with native-born parents slipped from 27.8 million to 27.3 million.

Young children of immigrants account for more than 30 percent of children under age 8 in seven states. California leads the nation at 50 percent. West Virginia comes in last with 2 percent.

Young Children of Immigrants: The Leading Edge of America’s Future,” by Karina Fortuny, Donald Hernandez, and Ajay Chaudry, uses data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and other federal sources.

The vast majority (93 percent) of the children of immigrants are U.S. citizens, with 99 percent being citizens by birth. Forty-three percent of the children of immigrants live in families where the children are citizens and the parents aren’t.

Forty-three percent of immigrants’ children have Mexican parents. But beyond Mexico, immigrant origins are very diverse — no other country or region surpasses 9 percent.

At age 5, 37 percent of children of immigrants are English-language learners, the researchers calculated. By age 8, the share is down to 20 percent. Sixty percent of the children 0–8 (and 81 percent of those of Mexican origin and 78 percent with roots in Somalia) have at least one parent who has not mastered English.

Thirty-four percent of children of immigrants live in households in which no one age 14 or older speaks English proficiently. Linguistic isolation is most common in Mexican homes (48 percent), followed by Central American (41 percent) and Southeast Asian (33 percent) immigrant households.

Young children of immigrants are disproportionately from low-income families. Fifty-one percent live in homes where the family income is below twice the federal poverty level. Thirty-eight percent of children of natives are in low-income homes. Families from Somalia and Yemen have the highest low-income proportions: 86 percent and 83 percent, respectively. The low-income shares are also high for households from the Dominican Republic (61 percent), Burma/Myanmar (52 percent), and Laos (46 percent).

“Young Children of Immigrants: The Leading Edge of America’s Future” includes data on the number of children of immigrants in each state, as well as on the number of children whose parents come from a list of more than 130 countries.

Funding for “Young Children of Immigrants: The Leading Edge of America’s Future” was provided by the Foundation for Child Development and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Two new papers about young children of immigrants and the path to educational success — “Two-Generation Strategies and Involving Immigrant Parents in Children’s Education,” by Robert Crosnoe, and “Early Education Programs and Children of Immigrants: Learning Each Other’s Language,” by Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen — are also available.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation. It provides information, analyses, and perspectives to public and private decisionmakers to help them address these problems and strives to deepen citizens’ understanding of the issues and trade-offs that policymakers face.



Topics/Tags: | Children and Youth | Education | Families and Parenting


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