Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America

Intergenerational Relations in Immigrant Families
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This group also has distant immigrant roots. The reasons for this are many and are often linked to mixed backgrounds, limited contact with Hispanic relatives and few Hispanic cultural links, according to a follow-up open-ended question. However, the number of Hispanic cultural activities experienced by Americans with Hispanic ancestry declines across the generations, mirroring the finding that Hispanic self-identity also fades across generations.

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Second-generation self-identified Hispanics were about as likely to say this happened during their childhood. However, the two surveys reveal that the childhood experiences with Spanish fade quickly across the generations, even though there is wide support for the language among Hispanics. About 40 million people in the U. But while the number of Spanish speakers nationally is rising, among self-identified Hispanics the share who speak it at home is in decline.

The two Pew Research Center surveys explored how respondents rated their own ability to speak and read Spanish and to speak and read English. While a small share of U. Among second-generation self-identified Latinos — i. Meanwhile, English dominance rises across the generations. The language profile of self-identified non-Hispanics who have Hispanic ancestry is different.

Despite a decline in Spanish use across generations, there is widespread support for its use in the future. Among self-identified Hispanics, connections with ancestral national origins decline as immigrant roots become more distant. Connections to the home country decline even further among non-Hispanic adults with Hispanic ancestry. The contemporary experiences linked to the Hispanic background of self-identified Hispanics and non-Hispanics with Hispanic ancestry vary across generations in much the way their childhood and cultural experiences do.

The two Pew Research Center surveys asked respondents whether their Hispanic heritage has made a difference in their life. How do adults with Hispanic ancestry think strangers walking past them on the street would describe their background? The two surveys explored experiences with discrimination related to being Hispanic.

Across Generations

And just as with other measures, experiences with discrimination are less frequent among higher generations of adults with Hispanic ancestry. The composition of networks of friends varies widely across immigrant generations. Yet, Hispanics are often living in neighborhoods that are largely Hispanic, especially in the South and in the West. The two surveys asked self-identified Hispanics and self-identified non-Hispanics with Hispanic ancestry about their neighborhoods. Among self-identified Latinos, the foreign born and the second generation are most likely to say that all or most of their neighbors share their heritage.

Self-identified Hispanics are U. Self-identified non-Hispanics are U. Americans of Hispanic ancestry are those who either self-identify as Hispanic or Latino or say they have Hispanic ancestors but do not self-identify as Hispanic. Foreign born refers to persons born outside of the United States to parents neither of whom was a U. For the purposes of this report, foreign born also refers to those born in Puerto Rico. Although individuals born in Puerto Rico are U. First generation refers to foreign-born people. Second generation refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with at least one first-generation, or immigrant, parent.

Third generation refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with both parents born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia and with at least one immigrant grandparent. Third and higher generation refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with both parents born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia.

Fourth or higher generation refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with both parents and all four grandparents born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.

It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Home U. Hispanic Trends. Main More. Defining self-identified Hispanic and self-identified non-Hispanic This report explores the attitudes and experiences of two groups of adults. You are reading page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5. Measurement of racial and ethnic identity in the U. In the case of Hispanics, anyone who says they are Hispanic is counted as Hispanic.

It also means some Americans may not self-identify as Hispanic even though they say they have Hispanic ancestors.

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In , all marriages in government data are different-gender marriages. In , , married Latinos had a spouse who was not Latino.

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In , that number had climbed to 2. A majority of immigrant Latinos say they identify most with their country of origin. But by the third generation, about half say they identify most often as American. Artboard 1 Sign up for our weekly newsletter. We need to confirm your email address.

These barriers have significant implications for the socialization of children in new immigrant families. New immigrants face additional challenges in their efforts to establish new networks while navigating short-term economic constraints after their arrival. They are more likely to live in extended-family households than their long-term immigrant peers Leach, Extended-family households subsequently experience increased rates of turnover after meeting these temporary needs. Moreover, successful integration increases the rates at which immigrants leave their families to marry and form their own independent households Leach, ; Van Hook and Glick, Immigrant family configurations are perhaps most consequential in childhood, when the need for parental support is greatest.

However, as shown in Table , there are a number of structural differences between the familial environments of the children of immigrants both first and second generation and those of their third and higher-generation peers. In the first generation, for example, there is a significant concentration of children in two-parent families in the major racial groups. These families are associated with lower risks of poverty, more effective parenting practices, and lower levels of stress Landale et al.

First generation children therefore largely live in families that provide them with a number of important contextual advantages. The prevalence of two-parent families continues to be high for second generation children; nevertheless, as shown in these estimates, the percentage of children in these families declines substantially between the second and third and higher generations.

Among third and higher generation children, for example, approximately 40 percent of Hispanic children and 60 percent of black children live in single-parent households. Another feature of the living arrangements of first generation children of immigrants is their overrepresentation in family households without a co-residential parent, especially among Hispanics and blacks.

Family formation among adult immigrants may either precede or follow migration to the United States. Regardless of when it occurs, however, family formation processes have a significant bearing on adult living arrangements. Integration presents a number of union status options to immigrants. Among them is the retreat from marriage along with an increased emphasis on nonmarital cohabiting relationships.

As immigrants adopt new social norms, they may also increasingly view divorce and separation as normatively acceptable alternatives to a bad marriage Qian ; Glick Declines in marriage and increases in union dissolution increase the likelihood that immigrants would live alone or in other nonfamily households. Indeed, in the prime union formation ages i. For example, data from the Current.

Population Survey, reported in Table , indicate that married spouses living together are the statistical if not cultural norm among first generation immigrants. Except among blacks, approximately half of all foreign-born individuals live with married spouses. Nevertheless, these living arrangements decline between the first and second generations, and although they rebound slightly in the third and higher generation, they still remain less prevalent than they were in the first generation. Another feature of these living arrangements is the tendency for some immigrants to live in households with absentee spouses.

Such households are mainly found among blacks and Hispanics. This phenomenon underscores the potential for spousal separation across borders during the immigration process. The resulting families are often deemed transnational, and have toeholds in both the United States and their native land. In contrast to marriage, however, cohabitating relationships have become more prevalent in the generations after immigration. Some scholars suggest that because Asian cohabitation rates are higher among females, this differential reflects the possible role of cohabitation as an arrangement preceding the distinctively high levels of intermarriage between Asian women and non-Hispanic white men Brown et al.

Across ethnoracial groups, the prevalence of cohabitation is highest among Hispanics, except among individuals in the second generation. High levels of cohabitation among Hispanics are a reflection of several influences. One of them is their disadvantaged socioeconomic profile. Hispanics have low levels of education and income, both of which are associated with a higher likelihood of cohabitation Qian, Furthermore, Hispanics are distinguished by their tendency to view cohabitation as a step toward subsequent marriage rather than as an alternative to marriage Oropesa, More generally, Qian found that about a third of all immigrants in cohabiting unions were previously divorced or separated.

Thus, cohabitation may also play an important role in facilitating immigrant transitions between marriages. An important question is whether these cohabiting unions represent a new pattern of Americanization, one characterized by less stable families and by weaker associational linkages between racially. For example, research indicates that common-law marriages are very common among Caribbean immigrants, although these marriages may not be legally recognized in the United States as legal marriage Grace and Sweeney ; Lincoln et al.

In general, differences in the definition of marriage could result in the underestimation of marriage rates among immigrants and may understate the decline in marriage between the first and second generations. Immigrants without marital and cohabiting partners may choose to live with other related or unrelated individuals e. Indeed, across ethnoracial groups, the percentage of immigrants living in such contexts increased from the first to second generation Table However, immigrants are more likely to live with other family members e.

In fact, these estimates suggest that as marriage rates have declined, the percentage of immigrants who have chosen to live with other family members even exceeds the percentage living in cohabiting relationships. Finally, although there are fewer immigrants living with other nonfamily members than with members of their families, living with nonrelated persons is generally a more preferred option compared to living alone, except among blacks Table For elderly immigrants, families are particularly important for providing access to economic resources as well as being contexts in which they can provide and receive care Treas and Mazumdar, Yet, the evidence on their living arrangements shown in Table suggests that the significance of these functions varies widely across immigrant generations.

First generation elderly immigrants, for example, mostly involve co-residence with both their spouses and their children. This is perhaps unsurprising; many foreign-born elderly do not participate in U. Co-residence with immediate family members may provide them with needed economic support in old age.

In the second and third generations, however, the elderly are less likely to live with both spouses and children. Instead, they are increasingly more concentrated in households in which they live only with their spouses or by themselves. The prevalence of these arrangements varies across race; for example, elderly blacks are most likely to live alone in the second and third generations, while their Asian, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white peers most often live only with their spouses.

More generally, elderly immigrants are considerably more likely to co-reside with members of their immediate families. However, there is little ethnoracial variation in the prevalence of these other arrangements across immigrant generations. Immigration is also associated with transformations in familial norms and the adoption of U. For example, divorce increases dur-. Increasing integration is also accompanied by notable shifts in immigrant parenting practices: immigrant families typically shift from using traditional practices such as corporeal punishment of children to a combination of less controversial parenting practices, consistent with widely accepted American norms Waters and Sykes, ; Foner and Dreby, Another consequence of immigration processes is the emergence of transnational families that reflect the dispersion of family members across international borders.

These families are created by a number of specific circumstances including the decision of one or more family members to migrate leaving other family members, typically children, behind Dreby, , ; Nobles, Today, an increasing number of transnational families are a consequence of the deportation of undocumented immigrants who leave their U.

Although transnational families are separated by international borders, many of them continue to invest in the cultivation of familial relationships and use them for instrumental purposes Orellana et al. There is no conclusive evidence regarding how these arrangements affect immigrant integration. On the other hand, transnational ties do decline as generational status increases Levitt and Waters, As a result, even if these ties are maintained by immigrant parents, they could receive less emphasis among second generation children who are more fully incorporated into society Levitt and Jaworsky, ; Portes, Guarnizo, and Landolt, Like native families, immigrant families are dynamic; they encounter ever-changing concerns within the context of rapid U.

In addition, legal structures and policies may work to strengthen families or separate them see Chapters 2 and 3.

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For instance, until recently, immigration laws did not recognize the gay and lesbian partners of immigrants under its definition of spouses Romero, However, since the U. Supreme Court ruled in that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, eligible individuals have been able to petition for the immigration of their same-sex spouses Avanzado, What social scientists know about the ensuing consequences of these unions for integration remains limited, but based on the available evidence on immigrant families it seems clear that they generally go through critical transformations as they adjust to their new environments.

These transformations are important and further research is needed to better understand how they adapt to their changing social circumstances. The historical record makes clear that with each successive generation, immigrant populations have adapted to their new environments by assuming patterns of family structure—size and composition—that resemble those of their native-born counterparts and the majority white population. This occurred during the last century as the diverse families of European ethnic. But while the rise in ethnoracial intermarriage among Hispanics and Asian populations has slowed over the past decade or two Qian and Lichter, , , the share of the U.

Conclusion Marriages between the native-born and immigrants, most of whom are ethnoracial minorities, appear to have increased significantly over time. Today, about one of every seven new marriages is an interracial or interethnic marriage, more than twice the rate a generation ago. Perhaps as a result, the social and cultural boundaries between native-born and foreign-born populations in the United States are much less clearly defined than in the past. Moreover, second and third generation individuals from immigrant minority populations are far more likely to marry higher-generation non-Hispanic whites than are their first generation counterparts.

These intermarriages also contribute to the increase in mixed-race Americans. Household or family extension among some immigrant populations also has slowly given way to the nuclear family system and the rise in nonfamily households including cohabitation and living alone. Thus immigrant and second generation children are much more likely to live in families with two parents than are third and later generation children, where the proportion of single-parent families converges toward the percentage for native-born children in U.

Since single-parent families are more likely to be impoverished, this is a disadvantage going forward. Generational differences in family forms and demographic processes therefore may become larger in the future. Indeed, if benchmarked against the typical or average American family, immigrant integration clearly is a two-edged sword. The potential influences on family life are hardly asymmetrical, that is, only extending from natives to immigrants Alba and Nee, Instead, the future is likely to bring new growth of family forms and patterns of kin relations that reflect bidirectional influences among population groups with culturally different patterns of family life.

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We are told that the United States is a "nation of immigrants," built by people who came from many lands to make an even better nation. In spite of their high university completion rates, West Asian or Arab women and Southeast Asian men had low employment rates relative to third-plus generation Whites. RG Rumbaut, A Portes, pp. Throughout, Moloney traces the ways that these policy debates contributed to a modern understanding of citizenship and human rights in the twentieth century and even today. Waters and Jennifer E. Ellis Island has become an invaluable resource center on immigration and genealogy as well as a national tourist attraction, widely praised for its excellent displays and informative exhibits.

Review of Economics and Statistics, 91 1 , Kritz, M. Elderly immigrants: Their composition and living arrangements.

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Immigrants and their American-born children represent about one quarter of the United States population. Drawing on rich, in-depth ethnographic research, the. Across Generations: Immigrant Families in America [Nancy Foner] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Immigrants and their American-born.

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 27, Landale, N. Hispanic families in the United States: Family structure and process in an era of family change. Tienda and F. Mitchell, Eds. The living arrangements of children of immigrants. Leach, M. A burden of support? Household structure and economic resources among Mexican immigrant families.

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Immigration and intermarriage among Hispanics: Crossing racial and generational boundaries. Sociological Forum, 26, Hispanic assimilation and fertility in new U. International Migration Review, 46 4 , Cohabitation, post-conception unions, and the rise in nonmarital fertility. Social Science Research 47, Who do immigrants marry? Emerging patterns of intermarriage and integration in the United States. Hispanics at the starting line: Poverty among newborn infants in established gateways and new destinations. Social Forces, 94 1 , Lincoln, K. Family Relations, 57 2 , Livingston, G.

Manning, W. Two decades of stability and change in age at first union formation. Journal of Marriage and Family , 76 2 , Martin, J. Births: Final data for National Vital Statistics, 64 1. Ontario, Canada: De Sitter. Parents and children across borders: Legal instability and intergenerational relations in Guatemalan and Salvadoran families. Foder Ed. Nobles, J. Journal of Marriage and Family , 73 4 , Oropesa, R. Normative beliefs about marriage and cohabitation: A comparison of non-Latino whites, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58 , Orellana, M.

Transnational childhoods: The participation of children in processes of family migration. Social Problems , 48 4 , Parker, D. New ethnicities and the internet: Belonging and the negotiation of difference in multicultural Britain. Cultural Studies, 23 4 , Parrado, E.

Immigration and tempo considerations.