Points of Departure: Emigration from the United States

Karen A. Woodrow-Lafield, University of Notre Dame
Ellen Kraly, Colgate University

The answer to the simple question of the number of U.S. residents having left in the 1990s to live abroad actually involves multiple "answers" that varied by source and date. The tasks of measuring quantities of emigration or return migration and number of U.S. born persons or former U.S. residents living abroad, whether temporarily or long-term, remain dependent on a crude science of scrutinizing various data sources to indirectly address the problem. Drawing from several studies about emigration and return migration, this review covers definitional issues, analytic universe, study populations, period influences, heterogeneity of at-risk populations, constituencies of emigration estimates, and alternative findings. Although similar reviews are available for another hard-to-estimate population, unauthorized populations, a similar review has not existed for emigrants. To augment U.S. population statistics for this decade, a number of strategies are possible that meet criteria of understandability, credibility, and feasibility.

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Presented in Session 160: New Strategies in Demographic Measurement