Research Paper Erin R. Hamilton

Assimilation and Emerging Health Disparities Among New Generations of U.S. Children
Erin R. Hamilton (Affiliate in Sociology), Jodi Berger Cardoso, Robert A. Hummer and Yolanda C. Padilla

Children of immigrants currently make up one in four of all children in the United States, and this proportion is expected to increase to one-third by 2050. On average, children of immigrants are more likely than children of natives to live in poverty, experience food insecurity, and live in crowded housing. Additionally, they are less likely than children of natives to receive public assistance or to have health insurance. In this project, investigators provide a comprehensive picture of the health of children of immigrants in comparison to children of natives using recent, nationally representative data.


This project shows the prevalence of four common child health conditions increasing across generations (from first-generation immigrant children to second-generation U.S.-born children of immigrants to third-and-higher-generation children) within each of four major U.S. racial/ethnic groups. In the third-plus generation, black and Hispanic children have higher rates of nearly all conditions. Health care, socioeconomic status, parents’ health, social support, and neighborhood conditions influence child health and help explain third-and-higher-generation racial/ethnic disparities. However, these factors do not explain the generational pattern. The generational pattern may reflect cohort changes, selective ethnic attrition, unhealthy assimilation, or changing responses to survey questions among immigrant groups.