Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Report: First and second generation to be a third of U.S. population by 2040

Source: University of Southern California

report released today by the University of Southern California that projects the growth of immigrant generations in the United States has the second-generation children of immigrants poised to make up a larger share of the overall U.S. population in coming years, more so than they have in the past.

Published by USC's Population Dynamics Research Group, the report projects changes in the population of foreign-born immigrants and their descendants through 2040. It predicts slower growth in the foreign-born immigrant population, but growth all the same, with foreign-born immigrants due to comprise 16.7 percent of the population by 2040 (up from 13.2 in 2010).

The growth of the second generation - which includes the older second-generation children of immigrant parents who arrived long ago - has taken a different trajectory over the years, interestingly. Now it's on a steady climb:

The native-born second generation children of immigrants show a different historical trend. There was no increase in the second generation’s share of total population until after 2000 as the increasing numbers of children of recent, post-1960s immigrants were off-set by declining numbers of much older children of immigrant parents who arrived before 1920, in the previous period of mass immigration.

Since 2000, as the older generation shrank due to mortality and the new generation continued to grow due to births, the second-generation’s overall share of the population began to rebound. In the future it is projected to increase in parallel with the first-generation’s share, from 9.2% in 2010 to 13.7% by 2040.

Using the broadest possible definition of the second generation, which adds the native-born children of native-born mothers and foreign-born fathers, increases the second generation share by an estimated additional 2.7% in 2010 and 4.1% in 2040.


As a result, "the total foreign stock (parents and children with recent immigrant roots) is currently 22.5% of the total U.S. population and is projected in 2040 to rise to 30.5%, a level not seen since 1930," the report reads.

It also notes that the population share of children of immigrants increases further when those who arrived in the U.S. as children, referred to as the 1.5 generation, are factored in. In addition, the nation's population of first-generation immigrants is becoming increasingly "long settled:"

Between 2000 and 2010, the large wave of 1980s immigrants reached 20 years of residence, and in coming decades more immigrants will reach this threshold of settlement. The share of all foreign born who are long settled declined to a low point in 2000 (30.4%) but has since started rising; it is estimated at 38.5% in 2010 and projected to reach a majority (52.6%) by 2030.

According to the report, this "lays the basis for stronger social, economic, and civic ties and better integration in the American fabric."

The full report and executive summary can be downloaded here.

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