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America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016

Racial and Ethnic Composition of Children by Parental Nativity

The foreign-born population in the United States has grown since 1970. As a result, the population of children with foreign-born parents tends to be more diverse, in terms of race and Hispanic origin, than the population of children whose parents are native born. Potential language and cultural barriers confronting children and their foreign-born parents may make additional language resources necessary for children, both at school and at home.1

Figure 2: Percentage of children ages 0–17 by parental and child nativity and race and Hispanic origin, 2015
Percentage of children ages 0–17 by parental and child nativity and race and Hispanic origin, 2015

NOTE: The abbreviation NH refers to non-Hispanic origin. Native-born parents means that all of the parents that the child lives with are native born, while foreign-born parent means that at least one of the child's parents is foreign born. Anyone with U.S. citizenship at birth is considered native born, which includes people born in the United States and in U.S. outlying areas, and people born abroad with at least one American parent. Only children who live with at least one parent are included. Persons under age 18 who were the respondent or spouse were not included. Since Hispanics may be of any race, the categories shown are not mutually exclusive, and percentages will add to more than 100 percent.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

  • In 2015, one quarter of all children in the United States had a parent who was foreign born. In contrast, about 71 percent of all children were native born and had native-born parents.
  • Among native-born children with at least one foreign-born parent, the majority were Hispanic in 2015, a pattern that reflects the rise of immigration from Latin America over the past few decades.2 In contrast, among native-born children with native-born parents, the majority were White, non-Hispanic in 2015.
  • A growing share of immigrants are coming from Asia as well as Latin America.2 In 2015, Asians made up just 1 percent of native-born children with native-born parents, but they made up a far larger proportion of the children whose parents were foreign born. Asians made up 16 percent of native-born children with a foreign-born parent and 23 percent of foreign-born children with a foreign-born parent.

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1 Hernandez, D. J., Denton, N. A., & Macartney, S. E. (2008). Children in immigrant families: Looking to America's future. Social Policy Report, 22(3), 3–23. Retrieved from

2 Grieco, E. M. (2010). Race and Hispanic origin of the foreign-born population in the United States: 2007 (American Community Survey Report No. ACS-11). Retrieved from