Volume 39 - Article 40 | Pages 1065–1080

Child poverty across immigrant generations in the United States, 1993–2016: Evidence using the official and supplemental poverty measures

By Brian Thiede, Matthew M. Brooks

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:29 Jun 2018
Date published:14 Nov 2018
Word count:2489
Keywords:children, diversity, Hispanic, immigration, integration, population, poverty, racial/ethnic differences, United States of America


Background: Recent increases in ethno-racial diversity in the United States are paralleled by growing representation of first- and second-generation immigrants, especially among children. Socioeconomic inequalities along the lines of immigrant generation, race, and ethnicity suggest such demographic changes may result in greater disparities among recent, more-diverse cohorts of children.

Objective: Describe poverty rates among US children across five immigrant generation groups, using the US government’s official poverty measure (OPM) and a supplemental poverty measure (SPM), which accounts for government transfers and costs of living.

Methods: Using data from the Current Population Survey and historical SPM estimates from 1993–2016, we describe trends in child poverty, stratified by immigrant generation. We compare estimates of inter-generational differences and temporal changes based on the OPM and SPM, and we conduct stratified analyses for Hispanic and Asian children.

Results: We find persistent differences in poverty rates between immigrant generations. First-generation non-citizens and second-generation children with two foreign-born parents have consistently higher poverty rates than other generations, between which there are minimal disparities. Differences between OPM- and SPM-based estimates suggest public supports and costs of living have differential welfare effects across groups.

Contribution: We provide a historical record of child poverty differentials across immigrant generations, which have been understudied. Results demonstrate heterogeneity in the economic status of first- and second-generation children, which would be masked using other immigrant-generation typologies. Differences in OPM- and SPM-based measures raise questions about inter-generational disparities in public supports and costs of living, and stratified results highlight the intersection of race, ethnicity, and nativity as axes of inequality.

Author's Affiliation

Brian Thiede - Pennsylvania State University, United States of America [Email]
Matthew M. Brooks - Pennsylvania State University, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» The Great Recession and America’s geography of unemployment
Volume 35 - Article 30

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» A summary period measure of immigrant advancement in the U.S.
Volume 24 - Article 12    | Keywords: immigration, integration, United States of America

» Multiple (il)legal pathways: The diversity of immigrants' legal trajectories in Belgium
Volume 47 - Article 10    | Keywords: immigration, integration

» Increases in shared custody after divorce in the United States
Volume 46 - Article 38    | Keywords: children, United States of America

» Using race- and age-specific COVID-19 case data to investigate the determinants of the excess COVID-19 mortality burden among Hispanic Americans
Volume 44 - Article 29    | Keywords: Hispanic, United States of America

» A framework for the prospective analysis of ethno-cultural super-diversity
Volume 41 - Article 11    | Keywords: diversity, immigration