Success of Immigrants' Children Measured

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Correction Appended

Americans who were born to immigrant parents, many of them the adult children of an enormous wave of immigrants who began arriving in the 1960s, are doing better than the foreign born on important measures of socioeconomic success, and in at least one area -- education -- have outperformed the population as a whole.

Those findings were among many details released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center in a 130-page report that is perhaps the most detailed study of adult children of immigrants in the modern era of American immigration. The report relied on data from the Census Bureau and surveys Pew conducted itself over the last several years to produce what it called "A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants."

Of the 36 million people in this group, some 20 million have reached adulthood, and, according to the report, they are less likely than the foreign born and the general population to be in poverty. Their rates of homeownership are on par with those of the general adult population.

In terms of educational attainment, 36 percent have at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 29 percent of the foreign born and 31 percent of all adults.

"In all the ways our country measures how well you're doing, the second generation is doing very well," saidPaul Taylor, the executive vice president of the Pew Research Center.

The median age of a second-generation adult is 38, and the group is distinct in its racial and ethnic mix: no one group holds a majority and it also has an above-average intermarriage rate. Of the group, 46 percent are white, 35 percent are Hispanic, 12 percent are Asian-American and 4 percent are black.

More than a third live in the West.

The findings come as a national debate is intensifying about a possible overhaul of immigration policy.

Given current immigration trends and birthrates, virtually all of the growth in the nation's working-age population between now and 2050 will be accounted for by immigrants and their children.

The Pew report also offers some insight on the social integration of immigrant families. For example, overwhelmingly, adult children of immigrants Americans speak English, Pew found.

Hispanics and Asian-Americans, who make up about half of that group, place more importance on hard work and career success than the general public, according to the report. And they are also likely to consider themselves a "typical American."

But the report offers some caveats. One is that the data, in aggregate, sometimes conceal subgroup differences by race and ethnicity.

"Throughout history, the second generation is the one that marches into the mainstream and makes advances on the economic front," Mr. Taylor said, "and we see that playing out in the modern era."

Correction: February 8, 2013, Friday

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of pages in the Pew Research Center report on the adult children of immigrants in the modern era of American immigration. It is 130 pages, not 310.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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