Equity & Diversity

Data: Comparing Children of Immigrants in Eight Rich Countries

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 14, 2010 1 min read
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One- third of children in Australia have at least one immigrant parent, compared with 24 percent of children in the United States. In the United Kingdom the proportion is 16 percent while in Switzerland, it is 39 percent. Those are some facts that make for interesting reading in a special issue of Child Indicators Research that compares how children of immigrants are faring in eight affluent countries.

Donald J. Hernandez, a professor in the department of sociology at Hunter College, writes in an overview of the special issue that “not until 2009 did basic internationally comparable indicators become available to measure the number of children in immigrant families living in a range of affluent countries, and to assess their family and socioeconomic circumstances compared to children of native-born families.”

Those new basic indicators are used in the special issue to compare children of immigrants in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

So what do some of those “child indicators” tell us?

They show, the article following the overview says, that children with at least one immigrant parent from low- and middle-income countries are about as likely or more likely than children in native-born families to live with two parents. That’s the case with all the countries in the study except the Netherlands. The researchers say that fact is important because children living with two parents tend to be more successful in education than children in one-parent families, according to studies conducted in the United States and United Kingdom.

The indicators also show that in two affluent countries, Australia and the United Kingdom, immigrant teenagers ages 15-17 who came from low- and middle-income countries are more likely to be enrolled in school than their native-born counterparts in the settlement countries. In this example, native-born youths in the comparison include 2nd-generation youths who have at least one immigrant parent.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.