Study compares fertility rates among US immigrants
13 October 2005
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A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that women from the top-ten immigrant-sending countries to the US collectively have higher fertility than women in their home countries. As a group, immigrants from these countries have 23 percent more children than women in their home countries.
The study, titled "Birth Rates Among Immigrants in America: A Comparison of Fertility Between Immigrants in the U.S. and Their Home Countries", by Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, is embargoed until Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 8 a.m.Among the findings:
- In 2002, immigrant women (legal and illegal) from the top 10 immigrant-sending countries had 2.9 children on average, compared to a fertility rate of 2.3 children in their home countries -- a 23-percent difference.
- Mexico immigrants in the US, for example, had 3.5 children per woman compared to 2.4 children for women in Mexico. Among Chinese immigrant fertility is 2.3 in the US compared to 1.7 in China, and immigrants from Canada have 1.9 children compared to 1.5 children in Canada.
- While immigrants from the top-10-sending countries have more children than women in their home counties, from three countries -- India, Vietnam and the Philippines immigrant fertility is lower in the US than in their home countries.
- Immigrants in the U.S. can differ in important ways from the general population of the countries they come from. Adjusting for their education levels, which is a good predictor of fertility, the gap with their home countries actually grows: from being 23 percent higher to 33 percent higher.
- Put a different way, given the education level of immigrants and the fertility of similarly educated women in their home countries, one would expect immigrants from the top-sending countries to have 2.15 children on average in the US, not the 2.9 they actually do have.
- As for legal status, the study estimates that the birth rate of illegal alien women was almost 3.1 children on average in 2002, or about 50 percent higher than the two children natives have on average. The birth rate for legal immigrants is 2.6, or about one-third higher than that of natives.
- The high fertility rate of illegal aliens seems to be due primarily to factors other than their legal status, such as culture and educational attainment.
- The study estimated that 280,000 children were born to illegal alien mothers in 2002, accounting for nearly one out of ten of all births in the United States.
- If illegals are allowed to remain in the country, either as illegal aliens or legal residents, births alone will add some 4 million people to the U.S. population over the next decade.
- While immigrant fertility is significantly higher than that of natives, their presence in the United States is not the reason the overall fertility rate in the U.S. is much higher than in other western countries. Fertility in the U.S. is roughly 2.0 children, with or without immigrants.
- New immigrants (legal and illegal) plus births to immigrants add some 2.3 million people to the U.S. each year, accounts for most of the nation's population increase.
- Immigrant fertility differs by education level much more than that of natives. For example, immigrants without a high school degree have 3.3 children on average, 74 percent higher than the 1.9 children for college graduate immigrants. In contrast, natives high school dropouts have 2.3 children on average, only 27 percent higher than the 1.8 fertility for native college graduates.
- Because immigrant fertility differs so much by education, immigrants now account for more than one in three births to mothers without a high school diploma.