Close-up of a grandfather hugging his grandsons and granddaughter

Some worry that immigrants are destroying the traditional ‘American’ way of life.  It is understandable that many people seek to defend and preserve the values that American culture has traditionally been built on.  Thus, it is worth considering that children of immigrants are more likely, not less likely, than children of native-born Americans to be growing up in traditional families, that is with two married parents.  

The latest data from the Census Bureau on the family living arrangements of U.S. children show that 75 percent of immigrant children live in married-couple families, compared to 61 percent of children of U.S.-born parents. The figure is the same for immigrant children who were born in the U.S. as for those who were foreign-born. Research clearly shows that children from stronger family structures have better life outcomes and are more emotionally stable. 

Given that one-quarter of all children in the United States have first-generation immigrant parents, births outside of marriage are also declining in the United States for the first time in decades.  The trend may represent the end of an era of increase in unmarried mothers in a society in which marriage is and always has been a deeply rooted good. 

The following table from the Institute of Family Studies summarises the figures:



More conservative views among immigrants stemming from religious observance may help explain stronger marriages.  For instance, the Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion found that a majority of Latino adults living in the U.S. identify as Catholic (55%).   Indeed, sixty percent of Catholics in the U.S. younger than 18 are now Latino.  A further 22 percent identify as Protestant Christian.  

Whatever your views on changes to future immigration policy, American society should recognise the family values that many immigrant families exemplify.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...