Skip Navigation


The foreign-born population in the U.S. has increased substantially since 1970, largely due to immigration from Asia and Latin America. In 2002, nearly 20 percent of children in the U.S. or 14 million children, had at least one foreign-born parent: 15.9 percent were born in the U.S., and 3.7 percent were themselves foreign-born. Most children (76.2 percent) were native-born living in households with native-born parents.1

Compared to native-born children living with native parents, children living with foreign-born parents were more likely to live below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, more likely to live in cities, and more likely to live in two-parent families. They were also more likely to have parents with less than a high school education, although educational attainment varied by region of birth. Those born in Asia and Europe had the highest percentages of high school graduates (86.8 percent and 84 percent, respectively) compared to those born in Latin America, with only 49.1 percent having graduated from high school. Immigrant children and children of foreign-born parents face the challenges of acculturation and have health and psychosocial risks at home and at school.2

Graph: Percent distribution of children under 18 by nativity of child and parents 2002[d]


Graph: Percent distribution of children under 18 by income and nativity of child and parents 2002[d]

1 The term “native-born parents” indicates that both parents who live with the child are native-born, while “foreign-born” means that one or both of the child’s parents are foreign-born.

2 Schmidley, Dianne (2003). The Foreign-born Population in the United States: March 2002. Current Population Reports, P20-539. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.