Adult Children of Immigrants Exceed Immigrants in Income, Education, Social Integration


Second-generation Americans—-the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants—-are substantially better off than immigrants themselves on key measures of socio-economic attainment, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. They have higher incomes; more are college graduates and homeowners; and fewer live in poverty. In all of these measures, their characteristics resemble those of the fullU.S. adult population.

Hispanics and Asian Americans make up about seven-in-ten of today’s adult immigrants and about half of today’s adult second generation. The second-generation of both groups are much more likely than immigrants to speak English, to have friends and spouses outside their ethnic or racial group, to say their group gets along well with others and to think of themselves as “a typical American,” according to Pew Research surveys. The surveys also find that they place more importance than does the general public on hard work and career success. They are more inclined to call themselves liberal and less likely to identify as Republicans. And roughly seven-in-ten say their standard of living is higher than that of their parents at the same stage of life. In all of these measures, the second generation resembles the immigrant generation more closely than the general public.

As the U.S. Congress takes up immigration legislation, this Pew Research report projects that given current immigration trends and birth rates, virtually all (93%) of the growth of the nation’s working age population between now and 2050 will be accounted for by immigrants and their U.S.-born children. By then, the nation’s “immigrant stock” (first and second generation combined, adults and children combined) could grow from 76 million now to more than 160 million, at which point it would comprise a record share (37%) of theU.S.population.

This report provides a snapshot portrait of the second generation based on analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, supplemented by a look at attitudes, values, economic experiences, intergroup relations and identity markers, based on recentPewResearchCentersurveys of Hispanics and Asian Americans. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings:

The report is available at the PewResearchCenter’s website at

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