Second-generation Americans the Subject of New Pew Center Report

The unique qualities of second-generation Americans will “have a significant impact on the nation’s economy and politics for decades to come,” says new Pew Research Center study.


The Pew Research Center, which last year published a high-profile report on Asian Americans, has recently released one looking at trends among the 20 million second-generation Americans (US-born children of immigrants) out there. Considering Hispanics and Asian Americans make up about half of this group, the study is particularly relevant for those of us interested in learning more about our Asian American communities. The report conveys many aspects of how second generation adults may differ from other Americans, particularly in terms of attitudes, values, life priorities, economic experiences, and intergroup relations. Pew contends that these differences “will have a significant impact on the nation’s economy and politics for decades to come,” so it comes just as Congress begins to consider new immigration legislation.

Pew 2nd generation graphicSome of the report’s key findings include:

– 64% of second-generation Asian Americans say their group gets along well with all major racial and ethnic groups in America, compared to only 49% of first-generation immigrants.
– The intermarriage rate for second-generation Asian Americans is particularly high at 23%, compared to 15% of all second-generation adults and 8% of all immigrants.
– About 72% of second-generation Asian Americans say that most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard, compared to about 58% of the full US population.
– About 90% of second-generation Asian Americans are proficient English speakers, however just 40% claim they can speak their families’ native tongue at least pretty well.
– 75% of second-generation Asian Americans say their standard of living is better than that of their parents at the same stage in life, and 41% believe their children will surpass their current standard of living.

While not all the findings may be too surprising, what is particularly remarkable are the differences between first- and second-generation Americans–even within the same ethnic groups. Pew has truly given the second-generation experience a face of its own, distinct from any other in America. We’re just glad someone has finally given this sizable slice of the population the attention it deserves. Read the full report here.