fertility, newborn, mothers


High rates of Hispanic fertility raise an important question: Do Hispanic newborn babies start life's race behind the starting line, poor and disadvantaged? To address this question, we link the newborn infants identified with the new fertility question in the 2006–2010 American Community Survey (ACS) to the poverty status of mothers. Our results document the disproportionately large share (40 percent) of Hispanic babies who are born into poverty. The prospect of poverty is especially high in new Hispanic destinations, especially those in rural areas. For Hispanic newborn babies, poverty cannot be reduced to supply-side explanations that emphasize maladaptive behavioral decision-making of parents, that is, nonmarital or teen childbearing, low educational attainment, acquisition of English language skills, or other dimensions of human capital. Hispanics in new destinations often start well behind the starting line—in poverty and with limited opportunities for upward mobility and an inadequate welfare safety net. The recent concentration of Hispanic poverty in new immigrant destinations portends continuing intergenerational inequality as today's newborn infants make their way to productive adult roles.

Original Publication Citation

Lichter, Daniel T., Scott R. Sanders, and Kenneth M. Johnson. "Hispanics at the starting line: poverty among newborn infants in established gateways and new destinations." Social Forces 94, no. 1 (2015): 209-235.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Social Forces




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor