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Immigrant Children in the United States Are Growing in Number And Facing Substantial Economic Hardship

New York, N.Y. — The National Center for Children in Poverty reports 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 age 18 in the United States was estimated to have at least one foreign-born parent, and one in four children had at least one foreign-born parent.

According to the report, empirical evidence on immigration and inequality suggests that many more recent immigrants will remain economically disadvantaged throughout their working lives, and this disadvantage may be partly transmitted to their children.

Findings from the report include:

  • Immigrant children are twice as likely to be poor as native-born children.
  • Among children whose parents work full time, immigrant children are at greater risk of living in poverty than native-born children.
  • Among children whose parents have more than a high school education, immigrant children are twice as likely to be poor as native-born children.
  • Among children living in two-parent families, immigrant children are almost four times as likely to be poor as native-born children.

“First-generation immigrant children are more likely to live with full-time working parents and two-parent families than third- or later-generation children,” concludes Hsien-Hen Lu, PhD, one of the lead authors of the study. “Nonetheless, first-generation immigrant children are twice as likely to be poor as third- or later-generation children. For children living with fulltime working parents or in two-parent families, first generation children are four times as likely to be poor as third- or later-generation children.”