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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Children of at Least One Foreign-Born Parent

The foreign-born population of the United States has grown since 1970. This increase in the past generation has largely been due to immigration from Latin America and Asia and has led to an expansion in the diversity of language and cultural backgrounds of children growing up in the United States.20 As a result of potential language and cultural barriers confronting children and their foreign-born parents, these children may need additional language resources both at school and at home.21

Indicator Fam4: Percentage of children ages 0–17 by nativity of child and parents, selected years 1994–2012
Percentage of children ages 0–17 by nativity of child and parents, selected years 1994–2012

NOTE: Data for 2012 exclude the nearly 253,000 household residents under age 18 who were listed as family reference persons or spouses. Children living in households with no parents present are not shown in this figure but are included in the bases for the percentages. Native parents means that all of the parents the child lives with are native born. Foreign-born means that one or both of the child's parents are foreign born. Anyone with U.S. citizenship at birth is considered native, which includes people born in the United States or in U.S. outlying areas and people born abroad with at least one American parent. Foreign-born children with native parents are included in the native children with native parents category. Prior to 2007, Current Population Survey (CPS) data identified only one parent on the child's record. This meant that a second parent could only be identified if he or she was married to the first parent. In 2007, a second parent identifier was added to the CPS. This permits identification of two coresident parents, even if the parents are not married to each other.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.

  • In 2012, 21 percent of children were native children with at least one foreign-born parent, and 3 percent were foreign-born children with at least one foreign-born parent. Overall, the percentage of all children living in the United States with at least one foreign-born parent rose from 15 percent in 1994 to 24 percent in 2012.
  • In 2012, 29 percent of foreign-born children with a foreign-born parent, 24 percent of native children with a foreign-born parent, and 6 percent of native children with native parents had a parent with less than a high school diploma or equivalent credential.22
  • In 2012, 33 percent of foreign-born children with foreign-born parents lived below the poverty line, compared with 27 percent of native children with foreign-born parents and 19 percent of native children with native parents.
  • Regardless of their own nativity status, children with a foreign-born parent more often lived in a household with two parents present than did children with no foreign-born parents. In 2012, about 82 percent of native children with a foreign-born parent lived with two parents, compared with 67 percent of native children with two native parents.

table icon FAM4 HTML Table

20 Grieco, E. (2010). Race and Hispanic Origin of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2007. American Community Survey. Reports, ACS-11. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/acs-11.pdf.

21 Hernandez, D.J., Denton, N.A., and Macartney, S.E. (2008). Children in immigrant families: Looking to America's future. Social Policy Report, 22 (3). Society for Research in Child Development, Department of Sociology and Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, University of Albany, State University of New York. Retrieved from http://www.srcd.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=152.

22 If the child lived with two parents, the education reflected is that of the most educated parent.