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Press Release · July 22, 2004

Children Who Immigrate To State At Younger Ages Do Better

Stark Disparities Between Hispanic, Asian Youth Persist

SAN FRANCISCO, California, July 22, 2004 — When immigrant children arrive in California before the age of ten, they are more likely than those who arrive later to speak English fluently and to have health insurance. They are also less likely to live in poverty or to become parents at an early age, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Striking disparities also persist along these dimensions for immigrant children of different racial and ethnic groups – especially for Asians and Hispanics.

According to the analysis, children who arrive at very young ages have educational and labor market outcomes that are similar to native-born children of the same race and ethnicity. “Because they start adapting younger and attend more school in the United States, early-arriving children tend to have better English language skills, higher rates of high school graduation, and more earning potential when they enter the workforce,” says the study’s author, PPIC research fellow Laura Hill.

On average, Hispanic youth arriving before age ten fare better than their older-arriving counterparts: For example, 33 percent of Hispanics who arrive before age ten attend college, compared to just 13 percent of those who arrive later. In looking at Asians however, the study found one important caveat to the conclusion that early arrivals do better: Asian youth who arrive after age ten actually have better college attendance rates than those who arrive earlier (84% versus 78%).

Compared to Asian youth, Hispanics do significantly worse despite their age of arrival: 64 percent of late-arriving Hispanic youth lack health insurance compared to 35 percent of late-arriving Asian youth. Moreover, while parenting rates among young, late-arriving Asian women are negligible, nearly half of their Hispanic counterparts are living with their own children by the time they are age 19 to 24.

Perhaps most worrisome is that the study, The Socioeconomic Well-Being of California’s Immigrant Youth, finds that disparities between racial and ethnic groups appear to endure across generations: Third-generation Hispanic youth are considerably less likely than third-generation Asian youth to have attended college (44% to 54%). Furthermore, parenting rates among third-generation Hispanics between the ages of 19 and 24 are double what they are for third-generation whites (40% to 20%).

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett.