New Census Report Reveals 21% of Married Couples Have at Least One Foreign Spouse

PHOTO: Detail of United States Census Bureau infographic.

U.S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

Today the United States Census Bureau released a report noting that 21 percent of all married-couple households in 2011 had at least one spouse born in a foreign country, adding up to about 11.4 million total couples.

“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 Griecco, chief of the Census Bureau’s Foreign-Born Population Branch in the release. “As the immigrant population has grown, so has the chance that a native-born person will meet and marry a foreign-born person.”

Website Pew States has broken down some of the data, noting that 40% of the foreign-born spouses are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and about 25% were born in Europe or Asia.

Other highlights from the brief include:

  • 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.
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