Immigrants who have recently come to the United States are the most highly educated in history, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the Pew Research Center. Forty-one percent of immigrants entering the U.S. in the past five years arrived having completed at least a bachelor’s degree.

That number stands in sharp contrast to the 20 percent of newly arrived immigrants in 1970 who were similarly educated, according to the study, released Monday. Eighteen percent of recent immigrants had a postgraduate degree, compared with 11 percent in 1990.


Although educational attainment for adults born in the U.S. has risen over the past 50 years, newly arrived immigrants are still more likely to have a college degree than U.S.-born adults. The education gap between recent immigrants and U.S.-born adults is, in fact, the biggest it has been since 1970. In that year, 20 percent of newly arrived immigrants held a bachelor’s degree, compared with 11 percent of adults born in the U.S. In 2013, 41 percent of new immigrants had completed college, while that was the case for only 30 percent of U.S.-born adults. However, roughly a quarter of newly arrived immigrants have not completed high school, and in 2013, 77 percent of recent immigrants had completed high school, compared with 90 percent of adults born in the U.S.

There are several reasons for the increasing educational levels in newly arrived immigrants, according to Pew study. The majority of new immigrants -- roughly 41 percent -- were coming from Asia and were often highly educated, with about 57 percent of them holding a bachelor’s degree in 2013. Also, the number of immigrants from Central and South America, who tended to be less educated, had declined to 28 percent in 2013.