The Economic and Educational Status of African Immigrants in the United States

A new study led by a researcher at Michigan State University examines the economic success of African immigrants in the United States. There are currently 2.1 million African-born immigrants in the United States.

The study found Black women who have immigrated from Africa now earn more on average that Black and White women who were born in the United States. Black women immigrants from Africa are well represented in nursing and other healthcare occupations. Some 37 percent of Black women immigrants from Africa hold a college degree, compared to 27 percent of White American women and 17 percent of African American women.

Black immigrant men from Africa have not fared as well, despite the fact that more than half of them are college graduates. However, they still earn nearly double the incomes of African American men born in the United States.

Stephanie Nawyn, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University and lead author of the study, notes that “race plays a part in determining immigrant men’s earnings, but it doesn’t have the same role in immigrant women’s earnings. Black immigrant men may experience more stereotyping, they may experience more criminalization – there might be a lot of things going on where they get discounted and marginalized the same way African-American men do in this country.”

The study, “Gendered Segmented Assimilation: Earnings Trajectories of African Immigrant Women and Men,” was published in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies. It may be accessed here. The study was co-authored by Julie Park, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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