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Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants

February 17, 2013

Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants
Source: Pew Social & Demographic Trends

Second-generation Americans—the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants—are substantially better off than immigrants themselves on key measures of socioeconomic 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 full U.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. Pew Research surveys find that the second generations of both groups are much more likely than the 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.”

The Pew Research surveys also find that second-generation Hispanics and Asian Americans 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 for the most part they are more likely to 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.

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