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2012, Foreign-Born Population in the United States Statistical Portrait

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This statistical profile of the foreign-born population is based on Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project tabulations of the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). Users should exercise caution when comparing the 2012 estimates with estimates for previous years. Population estimates in the 2012 ACS are based on the latest information from the 2010 Decennial Census; the 2005 to 2009 ACS estimates are based on the latest information available for those surveys—updates of the 2000 Decennial Census. The impact of this discontinuity on comparisons between the 2010 and later ACS and earlier years is discussed in a Hispanic Trends Project 2012 report.

The ACS is the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. It covers the topics previously covered in the long form of the decennial census. The ACS is designed to provide estimates of the size and characteristics of the resident population, which includes persons living in households and group quarters.

The specific data sources for this statistical profile are the 1% sample of the 2012 ACS Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) and the 5% sample of the 2000 Census IPUMS provided by the University of Minnesota.1 The IPUMS assigns uniform codes, to the extent possible, to data collected by the decennial census and the ACS from 1850 to 2012.

Due to differences in the way in which the IPUMS and Census Bureau adjust income data and assign poverty status, data provided in Tables 31 – 37 might differ from data on these variables that are provided by the Census Bureau. Due to data collection errors in the 2012 ACS, fertility data was suppressed for seven states (Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas). As a result, 2011 ACA data is shown in Tables 15 and 16.

For more details, see the 2012 American Community Survey’s Accuracy Statement provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information about the IPUMS, including variable definition and sampling error, please visit To learn more about the sampling strategy and associated error of the 2000 Census or the 2012 American Community Survey, please refer to Chapter 8 of the U.S. Census Summary File 3: 2000 and U.S. Census Design Methodology, respectively.

For the purposes of this statistical portrait, the foreign born include those persons who identified as naturalized citizens or non-citizens and are living in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. Persons born in Puerto Rico and other outlying territories of the U.S. and who are now living in the 50 states or the District of Columbia are included in the native-born population.

1. Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 (Machine-readable database). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2011

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