elderly immigrants are about 40 percent less likely to be in nursing homes than are second- or third-generation elders.
As the age profiles in Figure 7.4 reveal, elderly immigrants rely very heavily on Supplementary Security Income (SSI) compared with the native-born, presumably because many elderly immigrants cannot qualify for Social Security and Medicare.
Figure 7.5 shows expenditures on public education, combining elementary and secondary education with higher education, and reflecting specific educational costs for immigrants, such as bilingual education.13 For elementary and secondary education, the cost of education is somewhat higher for immigrants and the second generation than for others because states with high proportions of immigrants also have high educational costs per pupil, and state-specific data were used to assign costs by state of residence. For age 15 and above, the CPS furnishes enrollment information, which is also reflected in the profiles; at younger ages, the same enrollment rates are assigned to all children.
Figure 7.6 shows expenditures on public assistance (AFDC and general assistance), food stamps, and the refunded portion of the earned income tax credit. Up to age 30 or so, immigrants receive benefits similar to those for the general population, although higher than those for the second generation. After 30, however, they receive substantially more assistance, on the order of $200 more per person until nearly age 60.
We can now combine all the benefit profiles (see Figure 7.7). It is striking that the benefit levels appear quite similar across all three groups. First- and second-generation immigrants are somewhat more costly during childhood because of the higher educational expenditures in the states in which they live and the costs of bilingual education, but first-generation immigrants who are of college age or who are old are substantially less expensive. The average immigrant does not receive more costly benefits at a given age than natives do; if anything, the opposite is the case. Note, however, that immigrant households are on average larger than native households, so that they may well receive substantially greater benefits than native households, as in the case study of California.
One important lesson to draw from this brief discussion of the age profiles
Bilingual students are 44 percent more expensive than average students in the Florida school system, and we assume that this holds in all 50 states (Clark, 1994). About half of first-generation immigrants have limited English proficiency (LEP) (Clark, 1994). We assume that no third or later generation immigrants are LEP and estimate that about a third of second-generation immigrants (36.8 percent) are LEP. Using the proportion of students who are LEP and non-LEP, we estimate the relative costs of each student to the state government. First-generation students are 1.22 times as expensive as the average student (.51 x 1.44 + .49 x 1.00). Second-generation students are 1.16 times as expensive as the average student (.368 x 1.44 + .632 x 1.00). If immigrant families tend to live in lower-income areas with lower per pupil expenditures on education, then our procedures will overstate the costs of educating immigrant children.