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Characteristics of Selected Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean Ancestry Groups in the United States: 2008-2012

Report Number ACS-34
Stella U. Ogunwole, Karen R. Battle, and Darryl T. Cohen


The population reporting Ethiopian, Nigerian, Haitian, Jamaican, and Trinidadian and Tobagonian ancestry in the United States is relatively small yet rapidly growing (Table 1).1 For example, in 2000, there were 737,000 people with Jamaican ancestry compared with about 1 million estimated in the 2008–2012 American Community Survey (ACS). The population reporting Ethiopian ancestry more than doubled in size from 87,000 in 2000 to an estimated 195,000 based on the 2008–2012 ACS. Moreover, they are not all foreign born. The 2008–2012 ACS estimated that almost three-quarters of the population reporting Ethiopian ancestry (72 percent) was foreign born, but that was highest among all the selected ancestry groups (Figure 7). The proportion that was foreign born among the population reporting Nigerian, Haitian, Jamaican, and Trinidadian and Tobagonian ancestry was lower (about 60 percent). Although the growth of these populations is beginning to attract the attention of researchers, studies of these ancestry groups, which include immigrants and their descendants, are still relatively rare.2,3,4,5 See text box on previous page for the Census Bureau’s definition of ancestry and notes on the selected groups.

1 Note that these are the largest sub-Saharan African and Caribbean ancestry groups with estimated total populations of at least 150,000 at the national level in the 2008–2012 ACS 5-year estimates. Spanish-speaking Caribbean ancestry groups were not included.
2 Angela B. Buchanan, Nora G. Albert, and Daniel Beaulieu, “The Population With Haitian Ancestry in the United States: 2009,” American Community Survey Briefs, ACSBR/09-18, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2014.
3 Christine P. Gambino, Edward N. Trevelyan, and John Thomas Fitzwater, “The Foreign-Born Population From Africa: 2008–2012,” American Community Survey Briefs, ACSBR/12-16, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2014.
4 Migration Policy Institute, Select Diaspora Populations in the United States-Ethiopian; Haitian; Nigerian, Washington, DC, 2014, accessed August 26, 2014, <>.
5 Randy Capps, Kristen McCabe, and Michael Fix, Diverse Streams: Black African Migration to the United States, Migration Policy Institute, Washington, DC, 2012.


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