Plaza Voices: Second Generation

Of the many reasons people leave their home countries to start lives in a new place, "opportunity" has to be one of the most common.

The first generation makes the leap, leaving friends, family, and history behind. What happens to their children, the ones born here? What opportunities do they embrace, and what do they value?

A 2013 report from the Pew Research Center sheds light on the experiences of adult children of immigrants, or "Second-Generation Americans." The report captures a wide swath of the population, from older adults, children of immigrants who arrived in the early 1900s, to those those whose parents came during the last few decades.

The study looked at several key socioeconomic measures, including household income, college graduation, homeownership, and poverty. What researchers found is that the children of immigrants attain success at the same rate as other Americans, in some cases surpassing the general population.

For instance, second-generation Americans graduate college at a rate of 36%, while the U.S. rate overall is only 31%. Far fewer second-generation Americans live in poverty than first-generation Americans--and their poverty rate is also lower than the U.S. population as a whole.

In a single generation, often working with immense challenges, immigrant families embrace the opportunities they find here and forge lives that are as successful and productive as those of any other American.

To learn more about the experiences of second-generation Americans, check out these books from the Denver Public Library. And please, share your story with us. Are you the child of immigrants? What values shaped your outlook? How do you think your experiences differ from those of first-generation Americans, or from the third-and-higher generations (children of U.S.-born parents)? We want to hear from you!

Plazas are a dedicated space for migrants from all over the world to connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s successful global community. This program engages newcomers of all ages and backgrounds with free opportunities and specialized support as they gain second-language conversation skills, prepare for citizenship, create new networks in business, and exchange perspectives across the immigrant experience.

To find a Plaza program near you, please see our events calendar.

Written by Amanda R. on April 1, 2015

Leave a comment