Immigration statistics for the twenty-first century

Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Of the three main contributors to population growth- fertility, mortality, and net migration-the latter is by far the most difficult to capture statistically. This article discusses the main sources of federal statistical data on immigration, each with its own characteristic set of strengths, weaknesses, possibilities, and limitations in the context of the interested social scientist. Among the key limitations, the article argues, are the elimination of parental birthplace from the census and the lack of complete data concerning the legal statuses of the U.S. population. This article concludes with suggestions on remedying such deficiencies, at relatively low marginal cost, such as the inclusion of questions on parental birthplace, instituting a regular survey of randomly selected legal immigrants, and the use of the "two-card method" in statistical data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-140
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


  • American Community Survey
  • Assimilation
  • Current Population Survey
  • Immigration population growth
  • Public Use Microdata Sample
  • Yearbook of Immigration Statistics


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