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CB13-157

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  THURSDAY, SEPT. 5, 2013

Census Bureau Reports 21 Percent of Married-Couple Households Have at Least One Foreign-Born Spouse

Married-Couple Households by Nativity Status: 2011 graphThe U.S. Census Bureau reported today that 11.4 million married-couple households, or 21 percent of all married-couple households in America in 2011, had at least one spouse born in another country. About 13 percent (7.3 million) of households had two foreign-born spouses, and 7 percent (4.1 million) had one native-born and one foreign-born spouse.

These statistics come from Married-Couple Households by Nativity Status: 2011, a brief that analyzes data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

"The number of mixed-nativity married-couple households corresponds with the increase in immigration to the United States over the last several decades," said Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau's Foreign-Born Population Branch. "As the immigrant population has grown, so has the chance that a native-born person will meet and marry a foreign-born spouse."

There were approximately 56 million married-couple households in the United States in 2011.

Of the households where husband and wife were both foreign-born residents, about 61 percent included at least one naturalized citizen spouse, including 41 percent where both were naturalized U.S. citizens and 20 percent where only one spouse was naturalized.

Other highlights from the brief:

  • Among the mixed-nativity married-couple households — households with one native-born and one foreign-born spouse — the foreign-born spouse was more likely to be the wife (55 percent) than the husband (45 percent).
  • Foreign-born spouses in mixed-nativity married-couple households were more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens (61 percent) than noncitizens (39 percent).
  • Foreign-born spouses in mixed-nativity married-couple households were most likely to have been born in Latin America and the Caribbean (40 percent), followed by Europe (26 percent) and Asia (23 percent).
  • Foreign-born husbands in mixed-nativity married-couple households were more likely than foreign-born wives to have been born in Latin America and the Caribbean. In contrast, foreign-born wives were more likely than foreign-born husbands to have been born in Asia.
  • Among all states, Hawaii (16 percent) had the highest percentage of married-couple households that were of mixed nativity, while Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia (2 percent in each state) had the lowest percentages.

This nativity status brief, based on data collected from the American Community Survey, focuses on married-couple households, defined as households including a householder with a spouse present. Households consisting of a married householder with an absent spouse or an unmarried householder with an unmarried partner present were not included in this analysis. In addition, married couples in which neither spouse is a householder were not included.

The American Community Survey is an ongoing statistical survey sent to about 3 million households across the country each year. The survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from town and city planners to retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local statistics for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as education, occupation, language, ancestry and housing costs for even the smallest communities. Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation's people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to "adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community," and over the decades allow America "an opportunity of marking the progress of the society."

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: February 10, 2014