Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

The Impact of Immigration on Indicators of the Well-Being of the Black Population in the United States

Academic journal article The Western Journal of Black Studies

The Impact of Immigration on Indicators of the Well-Being of the Black Population in the United States

Article excerpt

Studies published in the last decade provide clear evidence of the increasing numbers and diversity in the black population (Hernandez, 2012; Manuel, Taylor, & Jackson, 2012; Mason, 2014; Thomas, 2012; Unnever & Gabbidon, 2013; Waters, Kasinitz, & Asad, 2014). Dudley-Grant and Etheridge (2008) estimate that there may be as many as 8 to 9 million people of Caribbean descent included in the roughly 36.4 million people classified as blacks in the U.S. In 2005, two-thirds of the 2.8 million immigrant blacks were born in the Caribbean or another Latin America country and nearly one-third were born in Africa; 4 percent (about 113,000) were born in Europe, Canada, or elsewhere (Kent, 2007). Logan (2007) states that Afro-Caribbeans in the U.S.--over 1.5 million--now outnumber more visible national-origin groups such as Cubans and Koreans and that immigrant blacks in metro areas, constitute 20 percent or more of the total black population. Notably, the African component of the black foreign born population is growing most rapidly: 41 percent arrived between 2000 and 2005, compared to 15 percent of Caribbean/Latin American blacks and 22 percent of all foreign born blacks. Indeed, immigration contributed at least one-fifth (20 percent) to the growth in the U.S. black population between 2001 and 2006 (Benson, 2006; Kent, 2007). Sakamoto, Woo, and Kim (2010) analyzed the 2006 Current Population Survey (CPS) and found that first generation foreign born blacks account for 13.79 percent of the total black population and the second generation of foreign born blacks accounts for 2.4 percent of the total black population. Hernandez (2012) adds that children from birth to age 10 who reside with a black immigrant parent account for roughly 12 percent of all young black children in the U.S. In sum, roughly 16 percent of blacks are foreign born, which indicates that since 1990, the U.S. black population has been infused by a large population of foreign born blacks that is causing the U.S. black population to become more diverse.

The purpose of this paper is to answer the call for research that examines the impact that foreign born blacks have had on indicators of the well-being of native born blacks. As Waters et al. (2014) argue: "Few statistical databases actually differentiate immigrant and second-generation blacks from native African Americans. The inclusion of black immigrants and their children among the black population in most descriptions may be obscuring many aspects of the situation of native African Americans" (p. 371). Thus, this paper examine the impact that foreign born blacks have on general indicators of well-being of native born blacks in the U.S. Note that the descriptive analyses singularly focus on blacks. Therefore, no comparisons to whites are presented. Future research may wish to extend these analyses to examine how the impact of foreign born blacks is altering the general indicators of the well-being of blacks in comparison to whites.

Researchers recognize that there are substantial differences between foreign born blacks and third generation and higher blacks--that is, native born blacks who have native born parents, who are generally considered the African American population (Griffith, Johnson, Zhang, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2011; Logan, 2007; Thomas, 2012). These significant differences occur across a variety of indicators including education and arrests (Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 2007). Bennett and Lutz (2009) found that within levels of socioeconomic family background and academic performance, immigrant blacks have significantly higher college enrollment rates than do whites. Indeed, Kusow (2013) states that more than 5 5 percent of the black students at Harvard are from first- and second-generation West Indian and African immigrant families, or children of multi-racial couples. There is also limited evidence that suggests that foreign born blacks (e.g. Haitians) have lower rates of being arrested than U. …

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