Immigration — A Hot Topic!


The Joy of Discovering New Information

Some of you may know that I am a retired career employee from the U.S. Census Bureau.  I love my family and sharing the statistics and data that make up my heritage, family history, and the perpetual stories that keep coming from new discoveries.   Although retired now for nearly five years, I keep active with the newest and finest technologies, video graphics, and live charts.  I want people to enjoy, visualize and better understand past times and changes in the world over time as they may have related to their families and mine.

As far back as 2010, I first shared one of my visualization idol’s videos:  200 Countries, 200 Years–The Joy of Stats created by my peer and former national colleague from Statistics Sweden, and now renowned spokesperson Dr. Hans Rosling.  Hans and his son, Ola, built Gapminder, a software application that allows you to input raw statistics and automate them into meaning infographics.  Dr. Rosling has now produced many exceptional videos and made hundreds of live data presentations which he shares regularly on YouTube and at the TED conferences, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give talks about their specialties in 18 minutes or less.

Who And What is Metrocosm?

Much like Dr. Rosling, Max Galka, is a twenty-something New Yorker, an entrepreneur and all around data geek, and a Huffington Post contributor. Max built his Metrocosm website to focus on the graphical and storytelling side of data and to use it to offer new perspectives on familiar topics that analyze life through statistics and data.

And, just a few days ago on Facebook, I came upon Max’s recent interactive map that remains a hot topic in the news on the presidential campaign trail–Immigration.

This map focuses on about two centuries of immigration (from 1820 to 2013), and illustrates how 79 million people migrated to the United States to get lawful permanent resident status. It visualizes emigrants based on their earlier country of residence, and the brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. at a given time.  Each dot represents 10 thousand people.  And what I noted first was for the first 70 years, immigrants arrived from three countries only:  Ireland, Germany, and the United Kingdom (which includes the British Isles).  In 1892 you see Italy joins the top three countries and about 10 years later, Russians and Hungarians start arriving.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s that we start to see Mexican, Cuban, and Filipino’s immigrating.

As for the numbers of emigrants arriving–we first noticed in 1820 about 130,000 immigrants.  In 1840, the number rose to just over 1.4 million; by 1850 the numbers doubled in that 10-year-span to 2.8 million.  Then in 1880, there were 5.2 million, or nearly double again, though this time it was within a 30 year span. Twenty years later, immigration levels rose to 8.2 million.  They dropped by 2 million during the WWI period; and dropped by another 2 million in the early Roaring 20’s. With the onset of the Great Depression the number dropped below 1 million again to only about 700,000. Post WWII immigration jumped back up to 2.5 million.  For 1960-69,  there were 3.2 million ; 1970-79, 4.2 million; 1980-89, 6.2 million; 1990-99, immigration peaked at 9.9 million, then rose again starting in 2000-2009 to 10.3 million; and in 2010-2013, the number of emigrants dropped dramatically to  4.1 million. Immigration from Mexico has been a constant country listed in the top three countries emigrating since 1970; as has “Other Asian” countries since 1980 (which excludes the Philippines because it was included separately.  And, as late as 2000, the graph shows China among the top three countries whose people migrated to the U.S.

I’d like to say I had answers for why people from certain countries chose to migrate to the United States at certain times, but I’d rather hear comments from my readers about why they think people from the various countries chose to come to America when they did.  Too, it would be interesting to see how many Americans out migrated to other countries in a parallel graphic.  I think I’ll contact Max to see what he has to say about preparing one for us.  I’ll let you know when I hear back.

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