STUDY: New Research Examines Immigrant Assimilation and Busts Stereotypes

By Kenrya Rankin Sep 24, 2015

The 41 million immigrants currently living in the United States (including an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants) and their 37.1 million U.S.-born children represent a quarter of the total population, making them less some amorphous “other” than vital members of society whose absence would greatly impact the nation. 

And according to a new report from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, not only are their lived experiences of not reflective of persistent stereotypes, but immigrants and their children are weaving themselves into the fabric of the U.S. faster than previous generations.

In examining the lives of immigrants, the authors—who sit on the Panel on Integration of Immigrants into American Society—found that some key assumptions about immigrants are not supported by numbers, which were gathered via expert interviews and commissioned papers.

Education. In general, most second-generation immigrants attain as much—or more—education as third+ generation native-born Americans. That does not hold true off for foreign-born Mexicans and Central Americans, however.

Poverty. The poverty rate declines over generations, dropping from 18.4 percent for immigrants to 11.5 by the third+ generation. The exception is black immigtants, where there has been a recent rise in poverty for second+ generation citizens.

Language. About 85 percent of the foreign-born population speaks a language other than English at home, with 62 percent speaking Spanish. But about half of all immigrants report that they speak English “well” or “very well,” with just 1 in 10 reporting that they don’t speak English at all.

Health. Immigrants tend to be healthier than native-born Americans. They are less likely to die from heart disease and cancer, and have lower obesity and infant mortality rates. They also live a little over three years more than folks born in the United States.

Crime. Immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than their native-born counterparts. In fact, among men aged 18 to 39, they are jailed at just a quarter of the rate.

Read the full text of “The Integration of Immigrants into American Society” here.

(H/t ThinkProgress