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Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

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Animation: Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

America is a nation of immigrants, and though the country has seen a lot of new arrivals over the past two centuries, the rate of immigration has been far from steady.

War, famine, economic boom and bust, religious persecution, and government intervention have all caused wild swings in the rate of immigration from countries around the world.

Today’s striking animation, by Max Galka, is a great way to see changes in immigration over time. Inflows from specific countries rise and fall, and the top three countries of origin change numerous times over the years.

Below, is another way to look at the ebb and flow of American immigration since the early 1800s.

U.S. Immigration Charts
An important note. This data excludes forced migration (slavery) and illegal immigration.

Let’s look at the “waves” in more detail.

Wave one: The Old Immigration

From 1820 to 1870, over 7.5 million immigrants made their way over to the United States, effectively doubling the young country’s population in only half a decade.

Ireland, which was in the throes of the Potato Famine, saw half its population set sail for the U.S. during that time. This wave of immigration can still be seen in today’s demographics. There are now more Irish-Americans than there are Irish nationals.

The magnetic pull of the New World was profoundly felt in Germany as well. Growing public unrest in the region, caused by heavy taxation and political censorship, culminated in the German revolutions of 1848-49. Faced with severe hardship at home, millions of Germans made their way to America over the 1800s. It’s estimated that one-third of the total ethnic German population in the world now lives in the United States.

Wave Two: Gold Rush

Much of America’s early immigration was from various points in Europe, but there was one prominent exception: China.

The discovery of gold in California inspired Chinese workers to seek their fortune in America. After a crop failure in Southern China in 1852, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants flooded into San Francisco.

Although the State of California was making millions of dollars off its Foreign Miners Tax, sentiment towards Chinese workers began to sour. Gold mines were being tapped out and white Californians blamed the Chinese for driving wages down.

Chinamen are getting to be altogether too plentiful in this country.

– John Bigler, Governor of California (1852-1856)

By 1882, the newly enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act had a chilling effect on Chinese immigration. The Exclusion Act has the dubious distinction of being the only American law barring a specific group from immigrating to the United States.

Wave Three: The New Immigration

The wave of immigration leading into the 20th century is referred to as The New Immigration.

In 1890, Ellis Island was designated as the main point of entry for newcomers entering the United States. In 1907 alone, Ellis Island processed a staggering 1,285,349 immigrants. To put this number in perspective, if all of those people settled in one place, they would’ve formed America’s fourth largest city almost overnight.

This massive influx of people into New York had profound implications on the city itself. In 1910, Manhattan’s population density was an astronomical 101,548 humans per square mile.

The immigrants arriving during this period – heavily represented by Italians, Hungarians, and Russians – were seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity. Certain industries, such as steel, meat-packing, and mining, were staffed by many new arrivals to the country.

During this time, one in four American workers were foreign-born.

The Great Depression

The National Origins Act’s quota system, which took effect in 1929, essentially slammed the door on most immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Shortly after, the Great Depression further put a damper on immigration that would last well into the 20th century.

Wave Four: Mexico

After decades of sluggish immigration, the United States’ percentage of foreign-born citizens reached a low of 4.7% in 1970. But that was all about to change.

During the next decade, the number of states where Mexico was the top country of origin doubled in a single decade, and Mexicans became the dominant foreign-born population in the country. This migration was fueled by the Latin American debt crisis and later by NAFTA. The influx of cheap corn into Mexico caused hundreds of thousands of Mexicans from rural areas to search for more favorable economic opportunities. America was the obvious choice, particularly during the economic expansion of the 1990s.

U.S. Hispanic Population Map

This wave of immigration has shifted the country’s demographics considerably. Today, nearly one in five people in the United States are Hispanic.

Current Trends

Immigration trends are continually evolving, and America’s newest immigrants are often more likely to come from China or India. In fact, both countries surpassed Mexico as countries of origin for immigrants arriving in the U.S. in 2013. Today, the trend is even more pronounced.

us immigration top 5

Recent immigration numbers indicate that Asian immigrants will continue to shift America’s demographics in a new direction. Perhaps a new wave in the making?

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Demographics

Median Age of the Population in Every Country

How do countries around the world compare in terms of age? This compelling visualization shows the median age for every country in the world.

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The Median Age of the Population in Every Country

View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here

With a few notable exceptions, the world is rapidly aging.

Today’s infographic, which was shared by Bill Gates on Reddit, shows this incredible explosion in age and how different countries contrast with one another on this demographic metric.

While aging populations in Europe, North America, and Asia stand out on this type of visualization, it’s also important to look at the negative space. In both South America and Africa, populations are still quite young, with Africa getting younger and younger.

Note: The infographic is grouped based on U.N. regional classifications, and lumps Central America, the Caribbean, and South America as one demographic region.

The Oldest Countries

Which countries are the outliers in terms of global demographics?

Let’s start by taking a look at the oldest countries in terms of median age.

RankCountryMedian AgeRegion
#1Japan47 yearsAsia
#2 (t)Germany45 yearsEurope
#2 (t)Italy45 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Greece44 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Bulgaria44 yearsEurope
#4 (t)Portugal44 yearsEurope

Japan takes the cake for the oldest population and it’s joined by a host of European nations.

The following countries tied for the #7 spot, which is just off of the above list: Austria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, and Bermuda. All of these places had median ages of 43 years, with Bermuda being the only non-European state of this group.

It’s worth noting that some smaller countries appear to be excluded from Gates’ infographic. As we showed on our last chart covering the subject of median age, which uses a different data set, the small city-state of Monaco (which has a population of just 39,000 people) actually has the highest median age in the world at 53.1 years.

The Youngest Countries

Now, let’s take a peek at the world’s youngest countries in terms of median age.

RankCountryMedian AgeRegion
#1 (t)Chad14 yearsAfrica
#1 (t)Niger14 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Afghanistan16 yearsMiddle East
#3 (t)Angola16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Burkina Faso16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Mali16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Somalia16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)South Sudan16 yearsAfrica
#3 (t)Uganda16 yearsAfrica

The youngest countries globally are Chad and Niger with a median population age of 14 years. Both are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The only non-African country is war-torn Afghanistan, where the median age is 16 years.

A variety of countries tied with a median age of 17 years old, which puts them just off of the above list. Those countries include: Benin, Burundi, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Yemen, and Timor-Leste.

More Context on Aging

Want to get an even better idea of what the world looks like as it ages?

To get a sense of change over the coming decades, it’s worth taking a look at this animation that shows median age projections with a focus on Western countries all the way until the year 2060.

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Demographics

Mapping the Global Migration of Millionaires

Which countries are magnets for the world’s rich, and which countries are seeing a wealth exodus? Mapping the migration of the world’s millionaires.

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The world’s wealthiest people are also the most mobile.

High net worth individuals (HNWIs) – persons with wealth over US$1 million – may decide to pick up and move for a number of reasons. In some cases they are attracted by jurisdictions with more favorable tax laws, or less pollution and crime. Sometimes, they’re simply looking for a change of scenery.

Today’s graphic, using data from the annual Global Wealth Migration Review, maps the migration of the world’s millionaires, and clearly shows which countries are magnets for the world’s rich, and which countries are seeing a wealth exodus.

The Flight of the Millionaires

It’s no secret that China has been a wealth creation machine over the past two decades. Although the country is still making a number of its citizens very wealthy, over 15,000 Chinese HNWIs still chose to migrate to other countries in 2018 – the most significant migration of any country.

Here’s a look at the top countries by HNWI outflows:

CountryNet Outflow of NHWIs (2018)% of HNWIs lost
🇨🇳 China15,0002%
🇷🇺 Russia7,0006%
🇮🇳 India5,0002%
🇹🇷 Turkey4,00010%
🇫🇷 France3,0001%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom3,0000%
🇧🇷 Brazil2,0001%
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia1,0002%
🇮🇩 Indonesia1,0002%

Figures rounded to nearest 1000.

Unlike the middle class, wealthy citizens have the means to pick up and leave when things start to sideways in their home country. An uptick in HNWI migration from a country can often be a signal of negative economic or societal factors influencing a country.

This is the case in Turkey, which has been rocked by instability, mass protests, and an inflation rate estimated to be in the triple-digits by some sources.

For the third straight year, Turkey lost more than 4,000 millionaires. An estimated 10% of Turkey’s HNWIs fled in 2018, which is concerning because unlike China and India, the country is not producing new millionaires in any significant number.

Millionaire Magnets

Time-honored locations – such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands – continue to attract the world’s wealthy, but no country is experiencing HNWI inflows quite like Australia.

The Land Down Under has a number of attributes that make it an attractive destination for migrating millionaires. The country has a robust economy, and is perceived as being a safe place to raise a family. Even better, Australia has no inheritance tax and a lower cost of health care, which can make it an attractive alternative to the U.S.

In 2018, Australia jumped ahead of both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world.

Here’s a look at HNWI inflows around the world:

CountryNet Inflow of HNWIs (2018)% of HNWI Gained
🇦🇺 Australia12,0003%
🇺🇸 United States10,0000%
🇨🇦 Canada4,0001%
🇨🇭 Switzerland3,0001%
🇦🇪 United Arab Emerates2,0002%
🇧🇲 Caribbean*2,0003%
🇳🇿 New Zealand1,0001%
🇸🇬 Singapore1,0000%
🇮🇱 Israel1,0001%
🇵🇹 Portugal1,0002%
🇬🇷 Greece1,0002%
🇪🇸 Spain1,0001%

Figures rounded to nearest 1000. *Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, St Barts, Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis, etc

Greece, which was one of the worst performing wealth markets of the last decade, is finally seeing a modest inflow of millionaires again.

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