Demographic and Economic Characteristics of Immigrant and Native-Born Populations in Rural and Urban Places

October 6, 2016

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Summary

In recent years, researchers have documented the changing demographics of rural areas, with a specific focus on changes in racial-ethnic composition and immigration patterns,1 particularly the increased migration of Hispanics to rural places.2 In spite of this attention to the changing demographics of rural America, surprisingly little is known about how rural immigrants compare to both their urban peers and native-born counterparts.

In this brief we use American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates to document demographic and economic characteristics of the immigrant and native-born populations in the United States by metropolitan status. We focus on a wide range of demographic and economic indicators that relate to immigrants’ ability to assimilate and thrive in rural America.

Our analysis finds that rural immigrants are different than their rural native-born and urban immigrant counterparts on a host of demographic characteristics, including age, education, and family structure. Rural immigrants also differ from urban immigrants with regard to when they arrived in the United States and where from. In terms of economic characteristics, rural immigrants have relatively low family income and high poverty rates, even among those currently working and those who work full time. 

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