Children of immigrants have nearly doubled as a share of pre-K to 3rd grade students since 1990. The share of children under age 8 with immigrant parents stood at 24 percent in 2008, up from 13 percent in 1990. Young children of immigrants account for more than 30 percent of children in seven states, with California leading the nation at 50 percent. The majority (93 percent) of children of immigrants are U.S. citizens. This fact sheet also includes state-by-state data on the number of children of immigrants and the number of children whose parents come from more than 130 countries.
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This brief highlights the life circumstances of young children age 0 to 8 growing up in immigrant families.1
The number of young children of immigrants has doubled since 1990; this increase accounts for the entire growth in the U.S. population of young children since 1990
- Currently, 8.7 million U.S. children age 0 to 8 have at least one foreign-born parent, a doubling from 4.3 million in 1990.2 By contrast, the number of children with native-born parents has declined slightly from 27.8 million in 1990 to 27.3 million in 2008. Thus, children of immigrants accounted for the entire growth in the number of young children in the United States between 1990 and 2008.
- Nearly one in four children (24 percent) younger than age 8 have immigrant parents. The share has steadily increased over time, rising from 13 percent in 1990 to
20 percent in 2000 and to 24 percent in 2008.
- Young children are more likely to have immigrant parents than older children. In 2008, 25 percent of children age 0–2 have immigrant parents; the share is 24 percent for children age 3–5 and 23 percent for those age 6–8.
Young children of immigrants have diverse origins
- Forty-three percent of young children of immigrants age 0–8 (more than two of every five) have Mexican parents (figure 2). Looking beyond Mexican origin, however, immigrant origins are very diverse, with no more than 10 percent of children having parents from any of the other 10 broad regions of the world. Combining three regions, 20 percent have origins in the countries of Central America (8 percent), the Caribbean (7 percent), or South America (6 percent). Another 22 percent of children have parents
born in Asia or the Middle East: East Asia and Pacific (or "East Asia," 9 percent), South Central Asia (5 percent), Southeast Asia (4 percent), and the Middle East (3 percent). The remaining 15 percent of children have parents born in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe (or "Central Europe"), and Western Europe, Canada, and Australia (or "Western Europe").
- The shares of preschool-age children of African or Central American origin are likely to increase in the near future. The fastest growing populations of children age 0 to 2 are those whose parents emigrated from Africa or Central America; compared with children age 6–8, the number of children age 0–2 is 32 percent larger for those with African parents and 28 percent larger for those with Central American parents.
Young children of immigrants are still highly concentrated, but they and their families have been dispersing to nontraditional immigrant states
- Of all children under the age of 8 with immigrant parents, more than a quarter (26 percent) live in California (figure 3). This is twice the state's share of all children in the United States (13 percent) and three times its share of children with native-born parents (8 percent). Half of all young children in California are children of immigrants.
- Young children of immigrants are also strongly concentrated in several other traditional immigrant destination states: Texas (13 percent of all children of immigrants), New York (8 percent), Florida (7 percent), Illinois (5 percent), and New Jersey (4 percent).3 Together, these "big six" immigrant destination states account
for 63 percent of all children of immigrants in the United States.
- While the large, traditional immigrant destination states continue to have a majority share of all children of immigrants in the United States, immigrants have been dispersing across many other states in recent decades. Many states have much higher growth rates in their share of young children of immigrants than the traditional immigrant destination states. Seventy-three percent of young children of immigrants lived in the big six states in 1990, compared with 63 percent in 2008. The proportion of young children of immigrants living in the 22 new-growth states increased from 12 to 23 percent between 1990 and 2008 (see appendix table 1).
- Across the United States, young children of immigrants account for more than 30 percent of children in seven states and 20–30 percent of children in 12 states. Children of immigrants account for between 10 and 20 percent of children in 18 states. Their share is lower in the remaining 14 states (less than 10 percent of children, as shown in figure 4).
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