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

Pew Research Center
Date of Publication: 
February, 2013
Source Organization: 
Pew Research Center

Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants analyzes U.S. Census Bureau data to show that the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants are substantially better off than immigrants themselves. On key measures of socioeconomic attainment such as income, homeownership, economic success and educational attainment, these children of immigrants outpace their parents to levels comparable with native-born Americans.  

Hispanics and Asian Americans make up about seven-in-10 of adult immigrants and about half of the 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 surveys also find that second-generation Hispanics and Asian Americans place more importance than does the 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 public.

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" could grow from 76 million now to more than 160 million, at which point it would comprise a record share (37%) of the U.S. population.

See also a report and video on Adult Children of Immigrant Entrepreneurs by The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc. 

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Pew Research Center (2013). Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from