April 9, 2015

A Rising Share of the U.S. Black Population Is Foreign Born

Appendix B: Methodology

Data Sources

The data in this report mainly come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey (ACS). The survey collects detailed information on a broad range of topics, including race, country of birth, year of immigration and citizenship. The ACS has a continuous collection design with monthly samples of about 250,000; the nominal sample size in 2013 was about 3.6 million households, with about 2.2 million included in the final sample. (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/methodology/sample_size_data/index.php). U.S. Census Bureau data for 1980, 1990 and 2000 were used to analyze trend data. These sources were accessed via the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS).

Additional analysis of the unauthorized immigrant population was derived from Pew Research Center estimates of augmented American Community Survey data (2009-2012). For more on unauthorized immigration population estimates and methods, see “As Growth Stalls, Unauthorized Immigrant Population Becomes More Settled,” by Jeffrey S. Passel, D’Vera Cohn, Jens Manuel Krogstad and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera (2014).

Identifying Black Immigrants

Analyzing U.S. census data to calculate the number of black immigrants is subject to how individuals self-identify as well as how definitions of racial categories vary throughout the world. For the purposes of this report, “black immigrants” include anyone who responded “black” in either a single category or a combination of race categories, regardless of Hispanic origin, in 2000 or later. The 1980 and 1990 Census did not allow for respondents to choose multiple race answers, so in those years, numbers refer to black-only (single-race) respondents.

The report also includes comparisons to Asians and Hispanic immigrants; these groups also contain people who identify as black.

Immigrant population estimates include all immigrants regardless of citizenship or legal status.

Region Definitions

Following IPUMS characterization of birth places, Pew Research determined four distinct regions of birth for black immigrants: Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The countries in each of these regions are shown below.

Africa: North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan) and sub-Saharan African nations (Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe). While the U.S. Census generally records country of birth, in some instances when a country’s sample size is not large enough, nations within the same region are folded into non-specific country variables. For Africa, those included: other Africa, other Western Africa, and other Eastern Africa.

Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, other West Indies, and other Caribbean.

Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.

South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.

(Few black immigrants are from South and East Asia, Europe or the Middle East.)