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Report Number ACSBR/09-17
Nathan P. Walters and Rachel T. Cortés
Component ID: #ti1508956557

Introduction

This report presents data on the year of entry of the foreign-born population at the national and state levels based on the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS).1 In 2009, an estimated 38.5 million foreign-born people lived in the United States, representing roughly 12.5 percent of the total population. The foreign-born population includes anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth.

Data on year of entry is important because it can be used as an indicator of time spent in the United States by the foreign born. For example, in 2009, 14 percent of the foreign-born population reported having lived in the country less than 5 years. Additional information about the foreign born can be gained when year of entry is analyzed with other variables. For example, combining year of entry with data on place of birth shows that 83 percent of the foreign-born population who reported entering the United States in 2000 or later were from Asian or Latin American countries compared with 68 percent of those who reported entering prior to 1980. Also, data showing year of entry by state of residence can provide information on the proportion of recent entrants in each state. For example, the foreign-born population in North Dakota represents less than 1 percent of the total foreign born; however, one-third of this state’s foreign-born population entered the country within the past 5 years. By comparison, over one-fourth of all foreign born lived in California, but only 10 percent had entered in the past 5 years. This report examines differences in the size, place of birth, and geographic distribution of foreign-born year of entry cohorts.2

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1 Data on the year of entry of the foreign-born population are derived from the question: “When did this person come to live in the United States?” The year respondents report that they “came to live” is considered their “year of entry.” Respondents who “came to live” in the United States more than once were asked to report their most recent year of entry.
2 In this report the term “year of entry cohorts” refers to individuals who reported coming to live in the United States during specific periods of time: prior to 1980, 1980 to 1989, 1990 to 1999, and 2000 or later.

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