One in five married households has at least one spouse who was born outside the United States, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. Three states and the District of Columbia have 12 percent or more households where one spouse is American-born and the other is not.
Immigration trends have contributed to the growing number of foreign-born Americans, and the Census Bureau found 21 percent of married households in the U.S. in 2011 had at least one foreign-born spouse. (See Stateline map)
In California, Nevada, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, at least 12 percent of the married households included one American-born spouse and another foreign-born person, which the Census Bureau calls “mixed-nativity.” The national average is 7.4 percent.
Hawaii had the highest percentage of such households, at 16 percent. Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia had the lowest percentages, each at 2 percent. Generally, the mid-Atlantic and western states had higher percentages and Midwestern and southern states had lower percentages, except for the immigration hubs of Florida, Texas and Illinois.
Most of the foreign-born spouses – 40 percent – were born in Latin America and the Caribbean. About one in four were born in Europe or Asia.
The general trend for households broadly follows immigration and integration trends, the Census Bureau said. Most foreign-born spouses in “mixed-nativity” households were citizens, and the Census Bureau said as more immigrants assimilate in the U.S., the percentage of such households is likely to grow.
"As the immigrant population has grown, so has the chance that a native-born person will meet and marry a foreign-born spouse," Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau's Foreign-Born Population Branch, said in a statement.
Overall, the population of foreign-born Americans has increased from 14.1 million in 1980 to 40 million in 2010.
Of the foreign-born spouses, 61 percent are naturalized citizens and 39 percent are non-citizens, the Census Bureau said.
The report did not include same-sex married couples.