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Children of Immigrants
A Statistical Profile

Authors: Yuval Elmelech, Katherine McCaskie, Mary Clare Lennon, and Hsien-Hen Lu
Publication Date: September 2002

This is an excerpt from the full brief.

Recent data from Census 2000 show that the foreign-born population in the United States has increased 57 percent since 1990 to a total of 30 million. In 2000, one out of every five children under the age of 18 in the United States was estimated to have at least one foreign-born parent, and one in four poor children had at least one foreign-born parent.* Empirical evidence on immigration and inequality suggests that many of the more recent immigrants will remain economically disadvantaged throughout their working lives, and this disadvantage may be partly transmitted to their children.

In order to develop strategies to address the economic hardship experienced by children of immigrants and their families, it is important to identify the particular demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of this population. As this report—which focuses on children in poverty—demonstrates, first- and second-generation immigrant children are distinct from third- or later-generation children across a range of characteristics, including parental employment and education, family structure, and race/ethnicity.

Most research on poverty among immigrants has focused on families or adults. This report examines the unique position of the children of immigrants in American society.