Where Are Immigrants to the U.S. Coming From?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
growth in foreign born in the us

This is the second post of a two-part series on immigration patterns.

Yesterday’s post examined the growth in immigration for the U.S. and the Eighth Federal Reserve District.1 Today’s post will examine where immigrants are coming from.

In an article in The Regional Economist, Research Officer and Economist Subhayu Bandyopadhyay and Research Analyst Rodrigo Guerrero noted that the draw of immigrants to a nation is affected by both push factors and pull factors:

  • Pull factors are the desirable traits, such as higher income, of the host nation that draw in immigrants.
  • Push factors are the undesirable traits, such as poverty, of the nation of origin that cause immigrants to move abroad.

Also, the cost of immigration may be a factor. The authors wrote: “For example, India is far from the U.S.; so, migration costs are relatively high. On the other hand, Latin America is relatively close to the U.S., reducing migration costs.”

Where Are They Coming From?

The table below shows the share of foreign-born population in 2014 for the U.S., for the four largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the Eighth Federal Reserve District, and for the Chicago MSA for comparison’s sake. It also shows the compound annualized growth rate of foreign-born between 2005 and 2014 in parentheses.

growth of foreign born population in the us

Bandyopadhyay and Guerrero noted that about half of the foreign-born in the U.S. in 2014 were from Latin America, and about half of those were from Mexico. Trends for the Chicago and most Eighth District MSAs were similar, but the St. Louis MSA had greater shares from both Asia (2.0 percent) and Europe (1.4 percent) than from Latin America (0.9 percent)

Overall growth for the foreign-born population was 2 percent per year for the period 2005-14, while growth for the population as a whole was around 1.1 percent. The authors noted: “What is quite interesting in looking at recent data on the foreign-born is that the Asian-born population, which was a substantial share of the total number of foreign-born in 2014, grew at a faster pace than the foreign-born population from Latin America.”

The authors concluded: “Future investigation may provide insights into the factors that are driving the difference in immigration patterns between the District and the nation, as well as among MSAs within the District.”

Notes and References

1 The Eighth District includes all of Arkansas and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Additional Resources

Posted In Labor  |  Tagged subhayu bandyopadhyayrodrigo guerreroimmigrationnaturalized citizens
Commenting Policy: We encourage comments and discussions on our posts, even those that disagree with conclusions, if they are done in a respectful and courteous manner. All comments posted to our blog go through a moderator, so they won't appear immediately after being submitted. We reserve the right to remove or not publish inappropriate comments. This includes, but is not limited to, comments that are:
  • Vulgar, obscene, profane or otherwise disrespectful or discourteous
  • For commercial use, including spam
  • Threatening, harassing or constituting personal attacks
  • Violating copyright or otherwise infringing on third-party rights
  • Off-topic or significantly political
The St. Louis Fed will only respond to comments if we are clarifying a point. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters, so please edit your thinking before posting. While you will retain all of your ownership rights in any comment you submit, posting comments means you grant the St. Louis Fed the royalty-free right, in perpetuity, to use, reproduce, distribute, alter and/or display them, and the St. Louis Fed will be free to use any ideas, concepts, artwork, inventions, developments, suggestions or techniques embodied in your comments for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution, and without compensation to you. You will also waive all moral rights you may have in any comment you submit.
comments powered by Disqus

The St. Louis Fed uses Disqus software for the comment functionality on this blog. You can read the Disqus privacy policy. Disqus uses cookies and third party cookies. To learn more about these cookies and how to disable them, please see this article.

Subscribe to
On the Economy

Get notified when new content is available on our On the Economy blog.

Email Alerts  |  RSS

About the Blog

The St. Louis Fed On the Economy blog features relevant commentary, analysis, research and data from our economists and other St. Louis Fed experts.

Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis or of the Federal Reserve System.

Contact Us

For media-related questions, email mediainquiries@stls.frb.org. For all other blog-related questions or comments, email on-the-economy@stls.frb.org.