Journal Article

Living arrangements and household complexity among undocumented immigrants

In this descriptive study, we analyze the association between legal immigration status and household composition, complexity, and stability among 1.5th-generation Latino immigrants in the United States; i.e., undocumented individuals who were brought into the US by their parents before age 15—a group that includes “DREAMers” after the eponymous proposed Act of Congress to regularize their status. Specifically, we use data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), which provides flexibility to infer the legal status of Mexican and Central American immigrants, to characterize household relationships and living arrangements. Results from our analysis point to substantial complexity in the living arrangements of undocumented migrants, who tend not to live in simple arrangements with partners and children but are instead much more likely than other groups to co-reside with extended family and non-family members. These households are also characterized by high levels of instability, being most likely to change in size and form between subsequent interviews. These dynamics are compounded by the homophily in legal status among household members, with 1.5th-generation undocumented Latinos having partners and other household members who also tend to be undocumented.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.