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Study Analyzes Characteristics of Children of Immigrants

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A new study finds that Hispanic children with immigrant parents and black children of U.S.-born parents were rated the lowest on well-being indicators when compared against other children.

The research also offers some insights into the attributes of immigrant families — their strengths as well as the significant challenges they face. According to the U.S. Census, children of immigrants are now about one of every four children. (However, it’s important to point out that most children of immigrant parents are actually U.S.-born citizens).

The study, “Diverse Children: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration in America’s New Non-Majority Generation,” by the New York-based Foundation for Child Development, examined white, black, Asian and Latino children of both U.S.-born and immigrant parents. They broke out their findings into the corresponding eight groups, using data from 2010.

Children with immigrant parents, accounting for all four ethnic and racial backgrounds, were more likely to have an employed parents, more likely to live in a two-parent household, less likely to be born at low birthweight, and were less likely to be neither in school nor working between the ages of 16 to 19.

Meanwhile, children of immigrants across the four groups were worse off in terms of prekindergarten enrollment and health insurance coverage rates. As a result, the report urges greater investment in early education programs and health care.

“The families are good strong families when they come to the US, and yet we’re not supporting them in the ways that we could and should in regard to education and health care,” Donald Hernandez, lead author of the report, told the Christian Science Monitor. He is a sociology professor at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. His research focuses on immigrant families and public policy.

A number of other indicators were examined:

Income: According to the study, the median family income for Hispanic children immigrant parents is about $33,396, compared with Hispanic children with U.S.-born parents with a median income of about $42,696. Black children with U.S.-born parents fared the lowest of all groups examined, with a median income of $29,977.

Meanwhile, median incomes were actually higher in families with white and Asian immigrants ($75,044 and $79,848), than families in those ethnic groups with U.S.-born parents.

Secure Parental Employment: About 61 percent of Hispanic children with immigrant or U.S.-born parents lived in a home with a securely employed parent — compared with about 50 percent of black children with U.S. born parents.

Health Insurance: About 19 percent of Hispanic children with immigrant parents lacked health insurance and 15 percent of black children with immigrant parents lacked health insurance, the highest of the eight groups.

PreKindergarten Enrollment: Hispanics continue to be the least likely group to enroll their children in pre-K classes. Among Latinos, about 37 percent of children of immigrant parents and 42 percent of children of U.S.-born parents were enrolled in such classes in 2010. Other groups didn’t fare much better, with about 50 to 55 percent of children enrolled.