Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 2: Nativity

The size of the foreign-born population in the United States has increased in recent years, from 8 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2005. This growth has important implications for several aspects of primary and secondary education. Research suggests that foreign-born children and children of foreign-born parents tend to be of lower socio-economic status than their U.S.-born peers and may not perform as well as their U.S.-born peers on measures of academic achievement (Glick 2004).

In 2005, 4 percent of all U.S. children under age 18 were born outside of the United States and its territories.5 Some 23 percent of Asian children were foreign-born, a larger percentage than any other race/ethnicity. The percentages of Hispanic (11 percent) and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander children (10 percent) who were foreign-born were also higher than those for Black (2 percent), White and American Indian/Alaska Native children (both 1 percent), and children of more than one race (1 percent). The percentage of children under age 18 who were foreign born was about 2 percentage points lower in 2005 than in 2000 for both Hispanics and Asians.

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In 2005, 12 percent of the total population was foreign born. The percentage of the total population who were foreign born was higher than the percentage of children who were foreign born for all racial/ethnic groups. Among the racial/ethnic groups, 1 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives, 4 percent of Whites, 7 percent of Blacks, 21 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, 40 percent of Hispanics, and 68 percent of Asians were foreign born. Only Blacks and Hispanics experienced measurable changes between 2000 and 2005 in the percentages who were foreign born (an increase of 1 percentage point for both). The apparent increase in the percentage of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders who were foreign born was not statistically significant.

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Snapshot of Hispanic and Asian subgroups: Nativity

The two racial/ethnic groups whose populations had the largest proportions of foreign-born persons in 2005 were Hispanics and Asians. In 2005, 40 percent of the 41.9 million Hispanics and 68 percent of the 12.3 million Asians in the United States were foreign born.

Among foreign-born children under age 18 in 2005, 53 percent were Hispanic and 20 percent were Asian. Some 38 percent of all foreign-born children were Mexican, a greater percentage than any other Hispanic subgroup. Additionally, 5 percent of foreign-born children were South American, another 5 percent were Central American, 3 percent were Other Hispanic or Latino, and 2 percent were Dominican. Less than 1 percent of foreign-born children were Puerto Rican. Among Asian subgroups, Chinese and Asian Indian children each accounted for 4 percent of all foreign-born children, Filipino and Korean children each accounted for 3 percent of foreign-born children, Other Asian and Vietnamese children were each 2 percent of foreign-born children overall, and Japanese children represented 1 percent of all foreign-born children.

A larger percentage of South American children were foreign born (29 percent) than was the case for any other Hispanic subgroup. Among Asian subgroups, Korean children had the highest percentage who were foreign born (38 percent).

The percentage of children under age 18 who were foreign born was lower than the overall percentage who were foreign born for all Hispanic and Asian subgroups. There were also differences between the distributions of foreign-born children and the total foreign-born population among subgroups. A larger proportion of foreign-born children were Mexican (38 percent) compared with the total foreign-born population (30 percent), while smaller proportions of foreign-born children than the total foreign-born population were Central American (5 percent vs. 6 percent) or Other Hispanic (3 percent vs. 4 percent). Additionally, smaller percentages of foreign-born children than the total foreign-born population were Chinese (4 percent vs. 6 percent), Filipino (3 percent vs. 4 percent), or Vietnamese (2 percent vs. 3 percent).

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5 Births to U.S. citizens outside of U.S. territories are included as native.