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America’s Foreign Born

13 percent of the nation wasn’t born in the U.S.
  • May 14 2012

The massive wave of Latin American immigration in the 1990s and 2000s has forever changed the tapestry of America. But the foreign born population represents a wider swath than just the boom in the Hispanic population.

In 2010, America’s foreign-born population reached about 40 million and represented 13 percent of the nation, according to a report just released by the U.S. Census Bureau. More than half (53 percent) came from Latin America and the Caribbean. By comparison, 28 percent of the foreign-born population were born in Asia, 12 percent in Europe, 4 percent in Africa, 2 percent in Northern America (mostly Canada) and less than 1 percent in Oceania.

About two thirds (62 percent) of foreign-born residents came to live in the United States in 1990 or later, including more than one third (35 percent) who entered in 2000 or later. The majority (78 percent) of the foreign-born population from Africa entered in 1990 or later, including more than half (52 percent) who entered in 2000 or later.

In 2010, 44 percent of all foreign-born residents were naturalized citizens. Foreign-born residents from Europe (62 percent) and Asia (58 percent) had the highest percent naturalized, while foreign-born residents from Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest percent (32 percent).

Of all foreign-born residents who arrived before 1980, 80 percent were U.S. citizens in 2010.

More than half of the foreign-born population lived in just four states: California (25 percent), New York (11 percent), Texas (10 percent) and Florida (9 percent). More than one in four (27 percent) residents in California were foreign-born.

In 2010, 58 percent of foreign-born residents 15 and older were married, while 26 percent were never married. Native-born residents were less likely to be married (47 percent) and more likely to never have been married (33 percent). Among the regions of birth, foreign-born residents from Asia had the highest proportion married (66 percent) while those from Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean had the lowest (each 54 percent).

Foreign-born women had a higher fertility rate than native-born women. About 70 of every 1,000 foreign-born women age 15 to 50 had given birth in the 12 months prior to the survey, compared with 52 of every 1,000 native-born women in the same age group. Women age 15 to 50 from Africa had the highest fertility rate among the regions, with 97 births per 1,000 women.


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