Education: Immigrants vs. Natives

Education: Immigrants vs. Natives

Over at the Brookings Institution's Social Mobility Memos blog, Richard V. Reeves and Joanna Venator write:

For all the fears of a flood of unskilled workers into the United States, it looks like the educational attainment of immigrants has not changed much in the last fifty years. Immigrants with less than a high school education have made up about 30% of the country's immigrants consistently for over 40 years.

Here's a chart they provide:


Read the whole thing; they go on to break the numbers down by region of origin and provide some data on how future generations do.

I think it's important, however, to note that while the proportion of immigrants with no high-school degree hasn't changed, the meaning of lacking a high-school degree in America has. Here's a chart from the Census:

In the 1970s, the immigrant population was pretty similar to the general population (though an ideal comparison would involve controlling for age). Today, immigrants are far more likely than natives to lack a degree. As the Census report notes, as of 2009, "about 89 percent of the native population had completed at least high school, compared with 68 percent of the foreign-born population." That's a pretty big gap.

Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

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