A description of the sociodemographic and economic background of Greek immigrants who came to the U.S. after 2010, compared to those who came before, is illuminating on many fronts.
One of the many consequences of the Greek financial crisis during the 2008/9 time period is the emigration of Greeks to other parts of the world, such as to the United States.
Greek immigration to the U.S. spans over one hundred years; the first wave has been documented by scholars to have occurred between 1890 and 1924, followed by the second major wave between 1968-1979.
While Greeks were still arriving to the U.S. after 1979, their numbers were not as a high as the years prior to that time. The number of Greeks arriving in the U.S., however, increased greatly after 2010.
Year of immigration
According to the 2019 American Community Survey, nearly 17% of all foreign-born Greeks came to the U.S. in 2010 and afterward. While this number may seem small compared to the previous years, it still represents a sizeable share of the current Greek immigrant population in the U.S.
It’s interesting to note that 38% of all Greek immigrants who arrived after 2010 are now in school. Specifically, 58% are either in college (undergraduate) or in graduate or professional schools.
According to immigration data from the Department of Homeland Security, 75% of immigrants who obtained a lawful permanent resident status did so either because of family-sponsored preferences or were an immediate relative of U.S. citizens. Another 16% used the employment preference slot.
State and Metropolitan area residence for New Greek Americans
Eight out of ten post-2010 Greek immigrants are located in just ten states, which are: Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Texas, California, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
While pre-2009 immigrants also reside in the same states, there is an important exception — post-2010 immigrants are more dispersed across the states than previous Greek immigrants. For example, while 22% of all pre-2009 Greek immigrants reside in New York state, just 12% of post-2010 immigrants do so. Similarly, just under 6% of post-2010 immigrants reside in Illinois, compared to 11% of pre-2009 Greek immigrants. Lastly, 58% of pre-2009 immigrants reside in just five states, such as New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and California, and Florida.
On the other hand, only 42% of post-2010 Greeks reside in the above same states. Another important characteristic, though in line with other contemporary recent immigrants, is that nearly two-thirds are residing in the suburbs.
With respect to metropolitan areas, post-2010 Greek immigrants are more residentially dispersed across metro areas than their predecessors.
For example, while 40% of pre-2009 Greek immigrants reside in the NY and Chicago metropolitan areas, just 19% of post-2010 immigrants do so.
Greek immigrants and ancestry identification
A smaller share of post-2010 Greek immigrants are identifying with their Greek ancestry than those who arrived before 2009.
As a matter of fact, the share of those immigrants identifying with a Greek ancestry has been declining since at least the 1980s.
Among those Greek immigrants who do identify with a non-Greek ancestry, the most common ancestries selected are Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Slav, and other Eastern European.
This lends itself to the argument that post-2010 Greek immigrants are more diverse in terms of ancestral background than their foreign-born predecessors.
Education and Poverty
Post-2010 Greek immigrants have higher educational attainment levels than the previous Greek immigrant foreign-born cohorts.
Specifically, 37% of post-2010 immigrants have a college degree or higher compared to the pre-2009 foreign-born counterparts.
It’s also interesting to note that among those who have a college degree or higher, post-2010 Greek immigrants have higher shares of Master’s and Doctorate (Ph.D.) degree holders.
As expected, post-2010 immigrants have a higher poverty rate than the pre-2009 foreign-born contingent.
As expected, a high share of post-2010 immigrants are not citizens. At the same time, however, more post-2010 immigrants are born abroad of American parents than those in pre-2009 immigrant cohorts.
Greek American Family and household characteristics
On average, post-2010 Greek immigrants are significantly younger and less likely to be married than their immigrant predecessors, i.e., those who came here before 2010.
Among those who are married, post-2010 immigrants are more likely to be residing in the U.S. without their spouse than pre-2009 Greeks.
At the same time, post-2010 immigrants are more likely to have more than one child under 18 years old present in the household than their predecessors.
Grigoris Argeros, PhD is an Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, Eastern Michigan University, www.grigorisargeros.com