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Immigrants in California Likely to Dropout or Attain Higher Education

by Michael Higham, published

According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), 37 percent of the state's immigrants who are 25 or older did not complete high school in 2011. Overall, 25 percent of immigrants have college degrees. However, 47 percent of immigrants in California who arrived between 2007 and 2011 earned a four-year degree or higher.

By contrast, only 9 percent of U.S. born Californians 25 or older dropout of high school. They accounted for about 28 percent of all high school dropouts, while foreign-born students accounted for the rest.

The study was conducted by Hans Johnson and Marisol Cuellar Mejia of PPIC and it covered a broad range of statistics on immigrants in California. The following graph shows that California has steadily increased its immigrant population since the 1960s and has always had a higher proportion of immigrants than the U.S. as a whole:

Credit: Public Policy Institute of California

Immigrants in California from PPIC study

Statistics show that the state has over 10 million immigrants, accounting for a quarter of the entire immigrant population in the United States. While California has the highest immigrant population, most of them are documented:

"Almost half (47%) of California’s immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens, and another 26% have some other legal status (including green cards and visas). According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 27% of immigrants in California are undocumented."

Over half of immigrants in California come from Latin America. However, from 2007 to 2011, 53 percent of immigrants came from Asia. During the same time frame, 60 percent of immigrants who graduated from college were Asian-born.

Credit: Public Policy Institute of California

Immigrants in california have shifted in recent time

Although the total growth of immigration has slowed down recently, California still has a large percentage of the United States' foreign-born residents.

(Read or download all the results from the PPIC report here.)

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