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Putting America’s Defense Spending into Perspective

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Putting America's Defense Spending into Perspective

Putting America’s Defense Spending into Perspective

Wouldn’t it be a strange world to live in if 50% of military spending was paid for by just 5% of the population?

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Every year, the United States government spends the equivalent of $3,300 for each working citizen on its military budget. In aggregate, this grand total of $610 billion in defense spending amounts to about half of the dollars globally spent on the military.

With $216 billion spent per year, China has the next largest budget by far. But, to get to a number even close to U.S. spending, the military budgets of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, United Kingdom, and France would have to be added together.

From another perspective, the amount of annual defense spending per working person in the U.S. is higher than the income per capita of 70 countries, including places such as Morocco, Nigeria, Nicaragua, India, and Ukraine.

This means that if somehow the people of Nicaragua were taxed 100% with all money going to defense, it would only amount to a budget 1.8% of the size of America’s.

Original graphic by: BofAML, Business Insider

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Charted: How Latin America Drove U.S. Immigration from 1970–2019

The U.S. is built on immigration and this chart shows how Latin America has been one of the biggest drivers of U.S. immigration in the last 50 years.

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latam immigration

Charted: How LatAm Drove U.S. Immigration from 1970–2019

LatAm, otherwise known as Latin America, has been one of the biggest sources of immigration to the U.S. over the last one hundred years.

Since the 1970s, the region has driven the second wave of U.S. immigration and helped shape the country’s future immeasurably. This is especially clear when looking at Census data listing where people were born.

This chart from Latinometrics looks at the history of U.S. immigration considering both documented and undocumented immigration since 1850.

Historical U.S. Immigration

For most of its early history, Europeans drove immigration to the United States.

The UK, Ireland, and Germany were especially big sources of American immigrants well into the 20th century. But around the 1960-70s this began to shift, with LatAm countries marking the next wave of U.S. immigration.

ℹ️ LatAm includes all Central American, Caribbean, and South American countries.

Here’s a sample of the history of U.S. immigration using select years and regions:

Region/Country1850 190019602000201020152019
🇲🇽 Mexico13.3K 103.4K575.9K9.2M11.7M11.6M10.9M
Rest of Asia377 36.7K379.0K6.2M7.9M8.8M9.2M
Rest of Latin America1.7K19.7K217.6K4.8M6.9M7.5M8.5M
Caribbean5.8K14.4K114.8K2.1M2.6M3.0M3.1M
Rest of Europe49.5K2.8M3.7M2.9M3.0M3.0M3.0M
🇮🇳 India-2.0K12.3K1.0M1.8M2.4M2.7M
Africa5512.5K35.4K881.3K1.6M2.1M2.5M
🇨🇳 China, excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan75881.5K99.7K988.9K1.6M2.1M2.3M
🇨🇦 Canada14.8K1.2M952.5K820.8K798.6K830.6K797.2K
🇬🇧 United Kingdom1.3M2.8M1.2M677.8K669.8K683.5K677.9K
🇩🇪 Germany583.8K2.7M989.8K706.7K604.6K585.3K537.7K
🇮🇹 Italy3.7K484.0K1.3M473.3K365.0K352.5K314.9K
Oceania5888.8K34.7K168.0K216.7K238.7K300.2K
🇫🇷 France54.1K104.2K111.6K151.2K148.0K173.6K171.5K
Share of U.S. Population Made up of Immigrants9.8%13.3%5.7%11.0%12.9%13.5%13.7%

LatAm Immigration

As of 2019, 22.6 million foreign-born people in the U.S. were originally from LatAm countries, with 10.9 million from Mexico alone.

Additionally, in 2021 Mexican citizens received the highest number of U.S. immigrant visas in the world at almost 40,600. Immigrant visas are the first step in the process to U.S. green cards and citizenship.

And though Asian countries are beginning to make up the majority of U.S. immigrant applicants and permits, other LatAm countries also ranked high in issued permits in 2021:

  • 🇩🇴 Dominican Republic: 17.9K
  • 🇸🇻 El Salvador: 7.8K
  • 🇪🇨 Ecuador: 5.1K
  • 🇨🇴 Colombia: 4.8K

Furthermore, there is also undocumented immigration to consider. According to 2019 figures from Brookings, there are between 10.5-12 million undocumented migrants living in the U.S.—making up just over 3% of the population.

Here’s a look at the top five countries in terms of undocumented immigration to the U.S. in 2019, most of which are LatAm countries:

CountryNumber of Immigrants% of Total Undocumented Population
🇲🇽 Mexico5,313,00048%
🇸🇻 El Salvador741,000 7%
🇬🇹 Guatemala724,0007%
🇮🇳 India553,0005%
🇭🇳 Honduras490,0004%

The Future of U.S. Immigration

In the last few years, more and more Asian countries are seeing their citizens leave for the United States. In addition, the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian War (as well as other global events and crises) could shift U.S. immigration even further away from LatAm.

Currently, the U.S. is only permitting small numbers of legal immigrants to enter the country each year, numbering in only the hundreds of thousands. But as birth rates decline, the growth in the foreign-born population will continue to be a much-discussed and important topic for the country’s demographics in the coming years.

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