Family Sponsorship and Late-Age Migration in Aging America: Revised and Expanded Estimates of Chained Migration

July 2013
With Stacie Carr; Population Research and Policy Review, Vol. 32, Issue 6; Page 825-849

We use the Immigrants Admitted to the United States (microdata) supplemented with special tabulations from the Department of Homeland Security to examine how family reunification impacts the age composition of new immigrant cohorts since 1980. We develop a family migration multiplier measure for the period 1981–2009 that improves on prior studies by including immigrants granted legal status under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and relaxing unrealistic assumptions required by synthetic cohort measures. Results show that every 100 initiating immigrants admitted between 1981 and 1985 sponsored an average of 260 family members; the comparable figure for initiating immigrants for the 1996–2000 cohort is 345 family members. Furthermore, the number of family migrants ages 50 and over rose from 44 to 74 per 100 initiating migrants. The discussion considers the health and welfare implications of late-age immigration in a climate of growing fiscal restraint and an aging native population.