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First and Second Generation

First and Second Generation

A person who is a first-generation immigrant is defined as one who is born outside of the United States. 1.5-generation immigrants are individuals who came to the United States as children. Second-generation immigrants are born in the United States but have parents who are born abroad.

The immigrant-origin child population has grown to nearly 20 million and now make up approximately 27% of the U.S. child population.

Notably, the vast majority of immigrant children in the United States are second-generation birthright citizens.

immigrants by generation
Source: Migration Policy Institute

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Annie Casey Foundation

Child Trends

W.T. Grant — Intersecting Inequalities

To understand why generations matter, see:

  • Rumbaut, R. G. (2004). Ages, life stages, and generational cohorts: Decomposing the immigrant first and second generations in the United States 1. International Migration Review, 38(3), 1160-1205.