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2007.01.08 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkaldahl@mail.unomaha.edu

Children of Immigrants Focus of New Article from UNO Researchers

Omaha - A new article from the Migration Information Source by two University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) faculty members examines how children of immigrants are faring in Nebraska, which between 1990 and 2000, had the fastest growth of the foreign-born population of any Midwestern state and the second highest increase in children of immigrants in pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.

Lourdes Gouveia, director of the UNO Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS), and Mary Ann Powell, UNO associate professor of sociology, found that, as of December 2006, Latino children made up 22.6 percent of students in the Omaha Public School Dsitrict, the state's largest, and the highest projections indicate they will be a majority in a few years. The authors provide a previously unavailable look at first-, second- and third generation immigrants throughout the state based on Current Population Survey (CPS) data and their own Educational Attainment in Nebraska (EAN) survey, noting that due to limited sample sizes, the data should be interpreted with caution.

Gouveia and Powell find that:

According to CPS data, school enrollment for 16- to 24-year-olds jumps from 22.3 percent of first-generation Mexicans (59.7 percent full time) to 54.5 percent of second-generation Mexicans (90.3 percent full time).

Educational attainment increases across generations, too. CPS data show that nearly three out of four first-generation Mexican adults ages 25 to 65 (73.8 percent) have less than a high school diploma, but this number drops to one out of four in the second generation (25.6 percent). While only 2.6 percent of first-generation Mexican adults have a college degree, almost one-fourth of second-generation Mexican adults (22.8 percent) do.

Only 16 percent of first-generation Latino students who completed the authors' EAN survey reported that many or most of their friends had plans to attend a four-year college, but 23 percent of second-generation and more than half of third-generation Latino students reported friends having college plans.

Despite this progress, hurdles remain, according to the article. The majority of children of immigrants in Nebraska live in urban neighborhoods where poverty is at least twice as high as the city's overall poverty rate, and the authors caution that research has shown a correlation between family fragmentation, due in part to immigrant parents' long working hours in low-wage jobs, and downward assimilation.

The authors found that of the second-generation Latino high school students who provided information on their parents' work status for the EAN survey, 100 percent of fathers and 69 percent of mothers work. However, the majority (55.2 percent) of first-generation high school students and more than a third of second-generation high school students (38.4 percent) had to work to help their parents, while only 18.2 percent of third-generation students did. Additionally, about 70 percent of Latino children surveyed said they would need a scholarship to attend college.

Additional findings, as well as data charts, are availablefrom the Migration Information Source article at: http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=569.

The Migration Information Source is a project of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.

For more information, call (402) 554-3502.

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