E.g., 10/01/2014
E.g., 10/01/2014

Immigrant Women

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Immigrant Women

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Since the early 1990s, there have been more female than male immigrants to the United States. This spotlight examines some of the characteristics of this important group of immigrants. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March 2000.)

Distribution

Age

Education

Citizenship

Labor Force Participation

Marriage

Income and Poverty

Household Composition

Distribution

Foreign-born females make up approximately 5 percent of the total U.S. population.

Foreign-born females represent approximately 5.2 percent of the total population of the United States. Overall, approximately 10.4 percent of the total population is foreign-born.

The total foreign-born population has a balanced sex ratio; however, the sex ratio varies considerably by region of origin.

Of the 28.4 million foreign-born in the United States, approximately 14.2 million, or 50.0 percent, are female. In terms of variation by region, among the Caribbean foreign born, the sex ratio suggests 85 males to every 100 females. Among African foreign born, the sex ratio suggests 140 males to every 100 females. Among the Mexican foreign born, the largest of all foreign-born origin groups, the sex ratio suggests 118 males to every 100 females.

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Age

Overall, foreign-born females are older than their native-born counterparts.

The median age of foreign-born females (39.3 years) is higher than that of native-born females (35.5 years) as well as foreign-born males (37.0 years) and native-born males (33.3 years). Overall, the foreign-born population, with a median age of 38.1 years, is older than the native-born population, with a median age of 34.5 years.

A higher percentage of foreign-born women than native-born women are age 25 to 64.

Of all foregin-born women, 68.1 percent are age 25 to 64 compared with 50.2 percent of all native-born women. A higher percentage of foreign-born men (67.7) than native-born men (50.2) are also in this age category. Overall, 67.9 percent of all foreign born are age 25 to 64, compared with 50.2 percent of the native born.

There are more foreign-born women than foreign-born men over the age of 65.

A higher proportion of foreign-born females are in older age groups than are foreign-born males: 12.5 percent of female foreign born are age 65 and over, compared with 9.5 percent of male foreign born. Among the native born, 13.5 percent of all females are age 65 and over, while 10.5 percent of all males are in this age category. Overall, there are more native born age 65 and over than foreign born: 12.0 percent of all native born are over age 65 compared to 11.0 of all foreign born.

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Education

While the majority of foreign-born women have a high school degree or higher, they are less likely than foreign-born men to have a bachelor's or advanced degree.

Approximately 66.4 percent of all foreign-born women over the age of 25 have their high school degree or higher, which is slightly lower than the 67.6 percent for foreign-born men. However, foreign-born men (28.6 percent) are more likely than foreign-born women (23.1 percent) to have a bachelor's degree or more. Only 6.8 percent of all foreign-born women have an advanced degree compared to 12.6 percent of all foreign-born men.

Native-born men (86.7 percent) and native-born women (86.5 percent) over the age of 25 are equally likely to have their high school degree or higher. However, native-born men (27.7 percent) are more likely than native-born women (23.6 percent) to have a bachelor's degree or more. Native-born men (9.6 percent) are also more likely than native-born women (7.3 percent) to have an advanced degree.

Overall, although the native born (86.6 percent) are more likely than the foreign born (67.0 percent) to have a high school degree or higher, approximately the same percentage of native born (25.6) and foreign born (25.8) have a bachelor's degree or higher. The foreign born (9.7 percent) are more likely than the native born (8.4 percent) to have an advanced degree.

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Citizenship

Foreign-born women are more likely than foreign-born men to be citizens.

Of all foreign-born females, 39.1 percent are naturalized citizens. This is higher than the 35.8 percent for all foreign-born males.

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Labor Force Participation

Foreign-born women are less likely to be in the labor force than native-born women and are more likely to be unemployed.

Of all foreign-born women age 16 and over, 53.7 percent are in the labor force compared with 61.6 percent of native-born women. Of those in the labor force, 5.5 percent of the foreign-born women are unemployed compared to 4.2 percent of the native-born women. A higher percentage of foreign-born men (79.6) than native-born men (73.4) are in the labor force, but the percent unemployed for both groups (4.4 for the native born and 4.5 for the foreign born) are approximately equal. Overall, the percentage in the labor force for the native born (67.3) and foreign born (66.6) is similar, as is the percent unemployed (4.3 and 4.9, respectively).

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Marriage

Foreign-born women are twice as likely as foreign-born men to be widowed, divorced, or separated.

Approximately the same percentage of foreign-born women (60.3) as foreign-born men (61.5) is married. However, the percentage of foreign-born women who are widowed, divorced, or separated (19.4) is over twice as high as the percentage for foreign-born men (9.1). Also, a lower percentage of foreign-born women (20.3) than foreign-born men (29.3) have never been married.

More native-born men (55.3 percent) than native-born women (51.2 percent) are married. Overall, a higher percentage of the foreign born (61.0) than the native born (53.2) are married. Like the foreign born, more native-born women (23.1 percent) than native-born men (13.1 percent) are widowed, divorced, or separated. However, among all foreign born, 14.3 percent are widowed, divorced, or separated, which is lower than the 18.3 percent among native-born men and women. Also like the foreign born, more native-born men (31.6 percent) than native-born women (25.7 percent) have never been married. However, among all native born, 28.5 percent have never been married compared with 24.8 percent of all foreign born.

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Income and Poverty

Foreign-born women who are full-time workers make less than their native-born counterparts.

The median income for foreign-born women age 16 and over who are year-round, full-time workers is $22,106. This is lower than the median income for native-born women ($26,640) as well as foreign-born men ($27,143) and native-born men ($37,419). On average, the median income for the foreign born ($25,458) is less than that of the native born ($32,082).

The median income of family households headed by foreign-born women is less than that of households headed by native-born women. The median income of family households headed by foreign-born women with no spouse present ($24,776) is less than that of households headed by native-born women ($26,338) as well as foreign-born men ($36,831) and native-born men ($42,936) with no spouse present. Married couple households with a native-born householder have a median income of $58,382, which is higher than the median of $44,152 earned by married couple households with a foreign-born householder. Overall, the median income of all family households headed by a foreign-born householder ($39,897) is considerably lower than that of family households headed by a native-born householder ($51,179).

Foreign-born women are more likely than foreign-born men to live in poverty.

Approximately 18.3 percent of all female foreign born live below the poverty line, compared with 15.2 percent of all male foreign born. Among the native born, 13.2 percent of all females and 10.3 percent of all males live in poverty. Overall, 16.8 percent of all foreign born live in poverty, while 11.8 percent of the native born live in poverty.

Almost one-third of family households headed by foreign-born women live in poverty.

Of all family households headed by foreign-born women with no spouse present, 31.0 percent live below the poverty level, compared with 15.5 percent of households headed by foreign-born men with no spouse present. Among all foreign-born family households, 15.7 percent live in poverty. Among family households headed by native-born women with no spouse present, 27.4 percent live in poverty, compared with 10.9 percent of households headed by native-born men with no spouse present. Among all family households headed by the native born, 8.3 percent live in poverty.

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Household Composition

Of all family households with a foreign-born householder, approximately one in every six is headed by a foreign-born woman.

Of all family households with a foreign-born householder, 16.3 percent are headed by foreign-born women with no spouse present. This is twice the percentage of households headed by foreign-born men with no spouse present (8.0 percent). Among native-born family households, 17.8 percent are headed by women with no spouse present, while 5.2 percent are headed by men with no spouse present.