Dominican Republic: Dominican Population in the United States

Dominican Republic: Dominican Population in the United States

There are approximately 1.1 million Dominican immigrants living in the United States. While the Dominican population has settled in various places across the country, this analysis will focus on the three metro areas with the largest Dominican populations: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ (644,000); Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL (71,300); and Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH (78,000).

Overall, when compared to all other immigrants in the United States, immigrants from the Dominican Republic tend to have lower levels of English proficiency and education; they are less likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens, and are more likely to live in poverty. However, we do see variation in the Dominican immigrant populations in the New York, Miami, and Boston metro areas. Those in the Miami metro area tend to speak English, be U.S citizens, have higher levels of education, own homes, and earn more than their counterparts in the other metro areas. Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area have been in the United States longer than those in the other two metro areas, which may explain their higher levels of integration. Dominican immigrants to the Boston area have been in the United States the least amount of time, which may explain their lower values on various measures of integration.

Among Dominican immigrants in the United States, 43 percent are male, and 57 percent are female. Their median number of years in the United States is 16 years. The median year of immigration for Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area is 1994, while it is 1997 in the New York metro area and 2001 in the Boston metro area. The median age of all foreign born from the Dominican Republic is 44.

Nationwide, 53 percent of immigrants from the Dominican Republic are naturalized U.S. citizens. Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area have the highest naturalization rates (66 percent), compared to 53 percent for those in both the Boston metro area and the New York metro area.

Foreign-born individuals from the Dominican Republic tend to be less proficient in English than other immigrant groups. Specifically, 36 percent of Dominican immigrants are proficient in English compared to 52 percent of all other immigrants. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic in the Miami metro area have the highest level of English proficiency (44 percent) followed by the Boston metro area (33 percent) and the New York metro area (32 percent).

Education, Income and Housing: In terms of educational attainment, immigrants from the Dominican Republic have relatively low levels of education; 63 percent of Dominican immigrants have a high school diploma or less, and only 15 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In comparison, 50 percent of all other immigrants in the United States have a high school diploma or less, and 31 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. When comparing the three metro areas with the largest Dominican immigrant populations, immigrants in the Miami metro area have the highest levels of education. Nearly half (48 percent) of Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area have at least some college. Only 35 percent of Dominican immigrants in the Boston and New York metro areas have some college or higher levels of education. Only 22 percent of Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area have less than a high school diploma compared to 37 percent in the Boston metro area and 38 percent in the New York metro area.

When looking at total personal earned income, immigrants from the Dominican Republic are significantly more likely to earn less than $40,000 (64 percent) compared to all other foreign born in the United States (49 percent) and native-born U.S. citizens (38 percent). Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area are slightly more likely to earn $75,000 or more (11 percent) than those in the New York metro area (9 percent) and the Boston metro area (8 percent).

The majority of the foreign-born Dominicans in the United States have health insurance (84 percent) compared to 78 percent of all other immigrants in the United States. Dominican immigrants in the Boston metro area have the highest level of health insurance (93 percent) compared to 87 percent in the New York metro area and 77 percent in the Miami metro area.

Dominicans in the United States are more likely to rent than be homeowners; 75 percent of Dominican household heads rent and 25 percent own homes. All other foreign born in the United States have much higher levels of homeownership (52 percent). When comparing the metro areas, just over half of Dominican immigrant household heads in the Miami metro area own homes (51 percent)—similar to the proportion for other immigrant groups--compared to 20 percent in the Boston metro area and 15 percent in the New York metro area. Higher homeownership rates in Miami are consistent with more time in the United States, higher incomes, and higher levels of education, while low homeownership rates in the New York metro area are consistent with extremely high property values in that area.

Nationally, 24 percent of Dominican immigrants are living below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of all other foreign born and 14 percent of native-born U.S. citizens. Within the three metro areas with largest Dominican populations, the Boston metro area shows the highest share living below the poverty line (27 percent), followed by the New York metro area (25 percent). As expected, immigrants from the Dominican Republic in the Miami metro area are the least likely to live in poverty (19 percent).   

With the majority of foreign-born Dominican’s in the United States living at or above the poverty line, they are able to send money, in the form of remittances, to family in the Dominican Republic. According to data from the World Bank, in 2018, immigrants in the United States sent $6.8 billion (USD) to the Dominican Republic, an amount that is equivalent to 8.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Employment and Occupation: Dominican immigrants in the United States tend to hold wage or salary jobs (91 percent), while nine percent are self-employed. All other foreign born in the United States have higher levels of self-employment (12 percent). Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area are most likely to be self-employed (15 percent), followed by the New York metro area (9 percent), and the Boston metro area (6 percent).

Examining the types of occupations in which foreign-born Dominicans in the United States are employed, the highest shares work in service occupations (34 percent), transportation and material moving (15 percent) and sales (9 percent). The highest shares of Dominican immigrants work in service occupations in all three metro areas.

Given the relevance of health care workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, we examined the Dominican immigrant population’s employment in healthcare occupational groups. In the United States, 85,556 immigrants from the Dominican Republic work in healthcare occupations.  This occupational group is divided into three categories: healthcare practitioners, such as medical doctors or nurses; healthcare technicians, such as clinical laboratory technologists and technicians or pharmacy technicians; and healthcare support workers, such as nursing assistants or personal care aides. Nationwide, the vast majority of foreign-born Dominicans working in healthcare occupations are working as healthcare support workers (81 percent). Only 10 percent work as practitioners, and 9 percent work as technicians. Nationwide, all other foreign-born and native-born U.S. citizens are much more likely to be healthcare practitioners (42 percent).  There is much variation among immigrants from the Dominican Republic in the three metro areas. Dominican immigrants in the New York and Boston metro areas are most likely to be healthcare support workers (86 percent and 84 percent respectively) while Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area are more likely to be healthcare practitioners (30 percent) than those in the other two metro areas (6 percent in New York and 7 percent in Boston). This is consistent with Dominican immigrants in the Miami metro area having higher levels of education.