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Foreign-born residents face some obstacles that are not frequently found in other populations. In particular, many have limited English proficiency, which influences their employability and access to services, and they also may have a lower educational status (1-3). These issues can place foreign-born residents at higher risk of poverty than native-born residents, but the prevalence of these issues can vary widely between foreign-born groups depending, in part, on their region of origin and income (1). And, there may be some populations within the foreign-born community who are at a particularly high risk for poverty. When examining poverty, it is important to determine whether the foreign-born community is large enough to be relevant to overall poverty rates, has demographic characteristics that place it at higher risk of poverty, or contains any groups which are particularly at risk for poverty.
This section identifies residents as foreign-born if they are not native-born citizens (i.e. born in the United States or to parents who are US citizens). It does not identify immigration status, as the Census Bureau does not collect this information.  It identifies the Hispanic/Latino foreign-born community as a relatively large community in Forsyth County with a high poverty rate.

Important Links

Data 101
Data Glossary
About this Study
Executive Summary
Key Findings

Core Concepts

  • The foreign-born population in Forsyth County is larger and more likely to be Hispanic/Latino than in most of its peer communities.  The foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino population is also far more likely to live in poverty than the native-born population, and this is not true for the remainder of the foreign-born population. 
  • Hispanic/Latino, foreign-born residents in Forsyth County have low levels of educational attainment and face increased language barriers compared to the native-born population, which could partially explain their high poverty rates.  
  • Hispanic/Latino, foreign-born women are more likely to live in poverty than Hispanic/Latino, foreign-born men. This difference is substantially larger than the gender disparity in the native-born population. 
  • The obstacles faced by foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents in Forsyth County affect the Hispanic/Latino population as a whole. Most native-born, Hispanic/Latino residents are children, and the vast majority of these children have foreign-born parents.

Exploration of Immigration in Forsyth County

When evaluating the impact of the foreign-born community on overall poverty rates, it is important to consider how large the foreign-born community is and whether there are any communities within it that are particularly at risk for poverty.
Figure 1: Foreign-born Residents in Forsyth County by Geography, 2014
Figure 1 shows that a greater proportion of the residents in Forsyth County are foreign-born than in the majority of its peer communities. 

Bars of a lighter color indicate no statistical difference compared to Forsyth County. 
Figure 2: Poverty Rates by Nativity and Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 2 demonstrates that foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents are about twice as likely to live in poverty as the native-born population.
  • There was no significant difference between the poverty rates of the native-born and foreign-born, non-Hispanic populations.
  • It is possible that there are other foreign-born communities with high poverty rates. However, non-Hispanic, foreign-born populations are small enough that it is difficult to accurately measure their poverty rates.
Data for foreign-born, non-Hispanic residents has high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.

Figure 3: Hispanic/Latino Populations within Foreign-born Populations by Geography, 2014
As Figure 3 illustrates, the Hispanic/Latino community in Forsyth County represents a larger portion of the foreign-born population in Forsyth County than in all other peer communities.  
  • It is important to note that the segment of the foreign-born population at the highest risk of poverty is relatively large in Forsyth County.
  • Since 10% of the population in Forsyth County is foreign-born and 60% of that population is Hispanic/Latino, 6% of the total population is foreign-born and Hispanic/Latino, and 4% is foreign-born and non-Hispanic.  
  • Any specific race/ethnic groups within the foreign-born, non-Hispanic community would make up an even smaller percentage of the Forsyth County population, and while some may have high poverty rates, they would be less relevant to understanding poverty as a whole within Forsyth County due to their population size.
There was no data available for Roanoke (munc.); it was omitted from this visualization.
Figure 4: Age by Nativity for Hispanic/Latino Residents in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 4 suggests that the native-born, Hispanic/Latino population is mostly the children of the foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino population.
  • The vast majority of foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents are adults.  Any children arriving in the U.S. with them would be foreign born, but any children born to them after arriving would be native-born residents.
  • The vast majority of native-born, Hispanic/Latino residents are children.
  • According to a separate analysis, 90% of native-born, Hispanic/Latino children in Forsyth County have foreign-born parents.
  • Care should be taken when comparing native- and foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino populations, as it would mostly be a comparison between parents and children.  In many cases, it would be most appropriate to look at the Hispanic/Latino population as a whole instead, as is done in other sections of this report (section coming soon).
  • The risk factors that put foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents at risk for poverty also directly affect native-born, Hispanic/Latino residents because they so frequently are in the same household.
Data for foreign-born residents under 18 and native-born residents over 18 has high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.

Risk Factors Faced by the Foreign-Born Population

Depending on their background, foreign-born residents may face educational or language barriers that put them at higher risk of living in poverty.

Figure 5: Education by Nativity and Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
As Figure 4 demonstrates, foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents have lower educational levels than other groups. 
  • Relatively low educational levels in the foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino population could contribute to high rates of poverty in this population. 
  • Non-Hispanic, foreign-born residents were more likely to have no degree than native-born residents, suggesting that education may also be a barrier for some non-Hispanic, foreign-born residents. 
  • However, non-Hispanic, foreign-born residents were also more likely to have a post-secondary degree than native-born residents.  This may partially explain why they do not have higher poverty rates as well. 
Data for foreign-born, non-Hispanic residents with less than high school education and foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents with post secondary degrees have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.
Figure 6: Linguistic Isolation for Residents Age 18-64 by Nativity and Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 6 demonstrates that more than a third of foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino residents live in linguistic isolation. 
  • A household lives in linguistic isolation if no one in the household over the age of 13 speaks English exclusively or speaks English “very well”. 
  • Adults are more likely to live in linguistic isolation when they are foreign-born and when they are Hispanic/Latino. 
  • Linguistic isolation has been identified as a risk factor for poverty (2) and could contribute to the higher poverty rates found in the foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino community in Forsyth County. 
  • Linguistic isolation is also a barrier for some foreign-born, non-Hispanic residents.  However, this population represents less than 0.5% of the total population in Forsyth County and likely has little impact on overall poverty rates.
Data for non-Hispanic residents has high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution

Gender Disparities in the Foreign-Born Community

Any disparities in poverty rates between men and women could indicate differences in family structure or income.

Figure 7: Poverty Rates by Gender, Nativity, and Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
As Figure 7 shows, foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino women in Forsyth County have higher poverty rates than foreign-born, Hispanic/Latino men. This disparity is roughly four times as large as the disparity found in the native-born population. 
Christopher Webb, MPP
Christopher is a Data and Research Analyst with Forsyth Futures.  He performs statistical analysis and programming to support work on community issues in Forsyth County. 
He holds a Master's in Public Policy from American University and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Business.
If you have questions or comments about the data presented in this section, please contact Christopher at or by phone at 336.701.1700 ext. 108.


Literature References 

(1). Lazear, P. (2000). Diversity and immigration.  Issues in the Economics of Immigration (pp. 117-142). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.  Retrieved from:
(2). Haskins, R. (2008). Immigration: wages, education, and mobility. Retrieved from
(3). Paulson, A. & Singer, A. (2004). Financial access for immigrants: Learning from diverse perspectives. Retrieved from

Tabular References

Figure 1: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Nativity and citizenship status in the United States: Table B05002. [Data files from ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from
Figures 2, 4-7: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). American Community Survey 5-year Public Use Microdata [Data files from PUMS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from
Figure 3: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). American Community Survey 1-year Public Use Microdata [Data files from PUMS 1-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from