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Census: Foreign-Born Adults Less Likely to Have High School Degree than Native-Born

Americans born in the U.S. are more likely to have a high school education or higher, compared to foreign-born people living in the U.S., but slightly less likely to have an advanced degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In a demographic breakdown of the educational attainment of the U.S. population aged 25 and older in 2015, the Census Bureau found that 91.8 percent of native-born Americans had a high school degree, compared to 72.0 percent of foreign-born people.

While native-born American adults were more likely to have completed some college (61.3 percent versus 47.6 percent of foreign-born adults) or an Associates degree (43.3 percent versus 37.6 percent), the disparity in educational attainment at Bachelors degree level and beyond was much less.

As the Census reports, 32.7 percent of native-born adults and 31.4 percent of foreign-born adults had a Bachelor’s degree or more in 2015. Foreign-born adults were also slightly more likely to have an advanced degree, 12.5 percent compared to 11.9 percent of native-born adults.

“The educational attainment of the native and foreign-born populations differ in distribution,” the Census report, based on on data collected from the Current Population Survey (CPS), reads. “The foreign born had a higher proportion of adults with less than a high school education (28 percent) compared to natives (eight percent).”

“However, on the opposite end of the educational spectrum, the foreign born were just as likely as the native population to hold an advanced degree (13 percent versus 12 percent respectively, not significantly different),” it added.

The presence of the foreign-born population had differing impacts on the overall educational attainment statistics of ethnic and racial groups in the U.S.

Foreign-born, non-Hispanic white adults were more likely than native-born, non-Hispanic white adults to have a Bachelor’s degree. The same was true for blacks in the U.S., with foreign-born black adults more likely to have a Bachelor’s degree than native-born black Americans. Native-born Asians were slightly more likely to have a Bachelor’s degree than their foreign-born counterparts, and native-born Hispanics were significantly more likely to have a bachelor’s degree than foreign-born Hispanics.

“Hispanics were the only group where the percentage of the native population with a bachelor’s degree or higher was higher than the percentage of the foreign-born population with this level of education,” the report reads. “Twenty percent of native Hispanics had a college education compared to 12 percent of foreign-born Hispanics.”

Overall Asians — both foreign and native-born — were more likely than any racial or ethic group to have a Bachelors degree or higher.

Chart:

Census Cart 3_31

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