Comparing the Educational Attainment of Foreign-Born and Native-Born Blacks in the U.S.

The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. Founded in 2001 by Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Kathleen Newland, MPI grew out of the International Migration Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The MPI recently issued a new report showing differences in the educational attainment of the parents in African- and Caribbean-immigrant families compared to the education of parents in native-born African American families. A third of all fathers of Black immigrant families in the United States have a four-year college degree compared to 18 percent of families in which the father is a native-born African American. Some 26 percent of Black immigrant families have a mother who is college-educated compared to 15 percent of African American families.

If we break down the figures further by region of origin, we find that 45 percent of fathers of immigrant families from Africa have a college degree. Whereas 26 percent of mothers in African immigrant families are college educated. For Caribbean families, about 23 percent of both fathers and mothers have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Black immigrant families from Nigeria are the most likely to be college educated. Some 73 percent of fathers and 53 percent of mothers in Nigeria immigrant families have completed college. For Black immigrant families from Jamaica, 29 percent of fathers and 24 percent of the mothers are college educated, rates far higher than is the case for African American families.

At the low end of the spectrum, just 14 percent of fathers and 5 percent of the mothers in Somali immigrant families are college educated.

The report, Changing Demography and Circumstances for Young Black Children in African and Caribbean Immigrant Families, can be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. The study’s findings are very misleading. One would expected the priviliged class of one society to out-perform the general population of another society. Given the difficulty in immigrating from Africa and Caribbean, only the elite are able to come the the US in large numbers or to have their children educated here. To compare this group to ALL African Americans is irresponsible scholarship.

    • We are not all privileged. It’s the intrinsic understanding from a young age that a good education provides better opportunities. It’s the same reason you rarely see African born dealing drugs [in their neighborhoods]

      • So, they deal in other neighborhoods? And it’s acceptable because they are destroying a community that is not their own? This is all very elitist. It needs to stop. I am really chagrin to participate in “othering,” however, pointing out the limitations in people’s perceptions of themselves is the only effective tool I have found to cause pause with the proliferation of the rhetoric espoused in this article and the comments of folks like Abe. So, before you compare native-born blacks with Africans in the US, kindly consider that the African continent was colonized by Europeans, the literacy and poverty rates are extreme (Nigeria has a 50% literacy rate), and the political corruption is extensive. Folks should work on their planks before worrying about the specks of others.

      • Yes, I agree that many African and Caribbean immigrants like myself don’t come from privileged or elite backgrounds, but they come from families that strongly emphasize the importance of attainment of educational and professional credentials as a way to do well in life. This is not different for African-Americans because those who do well in school also tend to come from families that strongly stress the importance of education and professional attainment.

    • Yes, I agree with you. I am an African immigrant who is not member of the ruling elite. I came to this country to pursue my post-secondary education during the era of Apartheid in Namibia and South Africa. I completed my BA at a four-year college in Minnesota. Without the scholarship that I received from the Lutheran World Federation, I could not have afforded to go to that expensive school. Then, before I became a professor, I received UN scholarships that enabled me to complete two MAs and a Ph.D. Therefore, I think that people like myself cannot compare ourselves with ordinary non-privileged African-American person when it comes to educational and professional attainment although we may come from similar socio-economic backgrounds.

    • Which ethnic group in the US is the wealthiest overall?

      Doesn’t matter how you get there. What maters is where you end up.

      White or Asian is not an ethnic group, it is a race. And the question asks what ethnic GROUP is the WEALTHIEST group, not which group makes the highest income. Income does not equate to wealth.

      African Americans or Foundational Black Americans FBA are the wealthiest ethinic group in the entire world.

      African American total wealth is $7.2 Trillion That is more than The Total Wealth of ALL other Immigrant groups in America.

      That is more than the The Total Wealth of the entire continent of Africa All countries combined.

      If ADOS FBA was a country that would put us as the 13th Richest country by TOTAL wealth and the 3rd BY GDP Right behind USA and CHINA

      Source List of countries by total wealth – Wikipedia

      African Americans are Lazy is a myth 2020 us census says

      Working age whites employed 63% Working age blacks employed 62%

      and that is despite the CDC saying there is discrimination against hiring African Americans in the workforce. African Americans are lazy is a myth.

      The CDC has said that Racism is the reason for Health Outcomes Employment Outcomes and Wealth Outcomes between blacks and whites. As we ADOS FBA Knew all along. Also the Census says High school students who Graduated with a Diploma or GED Whites 90% Blacks 88%. Blacks are uneducated is a myth

      High school dropout rates Whites 4.6% Blacks 5.7% African Americans are criminals

      Non Hispanic White Americans Alone commit over 60% of all crimes in America

      Hispanic or Latino Alone Americans commit 18.5% of all crimes in America

      Black Americans Alone commit 13.4% of all crimes in America

      Asian Alone commit 5.9%

      African Americans are criminals is a myth and has become a prevailing stereotype because of anti-black hate and racism.


      GET THE FACTS: Crime in America by Race – Dr. Rich Swier

      Crime in America is an important factor in our society. All law enforcement agencies are involved in both the prevention, apprehension and arrest of those

      What does that say about ADOS FBA? It says if we worked more cooperatively and United with each other We could Build into an economic power to be reconned with. We could build up our own institutions, communities, and economic base and take us up even higher.

  2. This is a comparison of apples and oranges. For a true comparison, you need to compare the number of parents who hold college degrees in immigrants’ native countries to the number of native-born African Americans. Converseley, you would need to compare the number of native-born African Americans in Nigeria and other countries from which blacks emmigrate to America. A comparison of a subset of blacks from other countries to the entirety of native-born American blacks is problematic.

  3. I agree completely with Shawn and Celesti. I also question the rationale and motivation behind this study. Is it to further propagage a sense of otherness among African Americans? Where is the comparison to whites?

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