"Demography" is the study of human populations, using statistics to describe
conditions of life. Demographers consider a range of information about the
size and density of populations, the ages of their members, and how
populations change. Births, deaths, disease, marriages, divorces,
immigration, economic standing, occupation, race, ethnic and country of
origin all are subjects for the demographer.
New York City is unique and fascinating demographically. Recently, it has
had large numbers of foreign immigrants arriving, many long-standing
residents leaving, an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor, and
a rise in the black middle class. It is a city of unique ethnic and racial
diversity; it has a large older population. It was the home of many
immigrants during the turn of the 20th Century. It was a destination for
many African Americans from the Southern United States. Many residents of
the City's suburbs fled New York City starting after World War II. In some
areas of the city there is rapid growth fueled by immigrants and their
children. Some areas are undergoing racial and ethnic transition; others
are gentrifying. These trends are important for understanding the Ccty and
Andrew A. Beveridge has taught
sociology at Queens College since 1981. Since 1993 he has done demographic
analyses and consulted for the New York Times. He has provided expert
testimony in districting and redistricting, housing discrimination, and
numerous other civil rights cases in the metropolitan area and elsewhere.
The opinions expressed in Topics are his alone.
Recently, the United States Bureau of the Census posted without fanfare a new
that estimates the number of "unauthorized and quasi-legal migrants" ‹ people
born overseas who have settled in the United States without permission from
the U.S. government. In 1990, the census
researchers had found that there were about 3.8 million of these non-legal
immigrants present in the United States. In 2000, this number zoomed to 8.7
million. Assuming an undercount, there could be as many as 10.2 million. At
the same time, the number of foreign-born as a whole increased in the United
States from 19.8 million to about 30 million. This means that the proportion
of all foreign-born in the United States who are not legal residents rose
from about 20 percent to 28 percent.
At least one million non-legal immigrants make their home in the New York
metropolitan area; as many as half of them may have arrived over the past
decade, though it is probably less.
The anti-immigration oriented Center for Immigration Studies
http://www.cis.org/ sent out their own press release about this public report
with the title "Census Bureau: Over 100,000 Illegal Aliens from the Middle
East". The inflammatory headline undercut the most interesting information
presented. The report finds that 3.9 million or about 44 percent of the
"unauthorized and quasi-legal migrants" are from Mexico, with about four
from the former USSR and El Salvador. As to the Middle East according to the
report, both Iran and Israel supplied 30,000 non-legal immigrants. It does
not present a figure for any other Middle Eastern country. Instead, all of
including all of the Arab states and Afghanistan, were lumped together as the
Other Mid-east, which all together produced 59,000 non-legal immigrants.
Census says that in the future they may send out their own press releases when
they issue new reports).
The metropolitan area in the last decade had
an increase in the total number of foreign born, legal or non-legal, of about
one million - from 3.6 million to 4.6 million,
according to another recent report based upon a yearly Census survey,
(available in pdf format) but most were probably not
non-legal. The countries that supply large numbers of
non-legal immigrants are not highly represented in New York. For instance,
Russia, China, India, Korea and Jamaica and the
Dominican Republic supply relatively few non-legal migrants.
Statistical Adjustment and "Hot" Decks
The United States Census Bureau continues to resist making an adjustment to
the census to account for a failure to make an accurate count of all people
living in the U.S. The bureau's decisions
and a long-standing bureau procedure are now under legal attack. First, a
group of Congressmen sued in California and a group of state legislators in
Oregon and both won the right to have the adjusted data released. The Census
Bureau is appealing. Congress members sued based upon an obscure law that
gives rights to such information to seven Congress members on a committee if
they are in a minority so there is a chance the Congress members will prevail.
Second, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning the legality of the
bureau's long-standing procedure of estimating data when they know a
household exists, but for whom they
have no answer to the Census questions. The so-called "hot deck" procedure
often used to create such data fills in the missing information by using the
responses from the last responding household on the same block. The bureau
has used the hot-deck procedure method at least since 1940.
of much of the new interesting data from the long form, such as income,
occupation, education, place of birth, commuting, housing condition, marital
status, etc. seems to be delayed and may not be available until early summer.
Five Sites For Beginners:
Bureau - Hands-down candidate for the richest source of post-1990
population data for NYC. Here you will find annual updates detailing
age and sex, race and Hispanic origin, as well as births, deaths, net
domestic migration and net international migration. Excellent special
feature: county-by-county estimates of the below poverty level
population. Indispensable and superb.
Also courtesy of the US Census Bureau. Features data on population and
housing, industry and business as well as a searchable database on any
other demographic information you could possibly want. Available by
state, metro or urbanized area. Maps too!
of Labor - Another exemplary source is the Local Area Unemployment
Statistics unit of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each month the
Bureau, in a joint undertaking with the State, provides county by
county estimates of the employment status of the working age
Commerce Department - A comprehensive handle on where and how New
Yorkers earn their livings. Also features information on Big Apple
employers, salaries, industries and their revenues. Especially
recommended is a database maintained as part of Commerce's Regional
York Metropolitan Transportation Council - One of the more
ambitious on-line undertakings in making regional and city statistical
data. Contains data on population, employment and income, to name a
few. Not always easy to use, but well worth the effort.
New York City Department
of Health -- Though the website of New York City's Department of
Health is utterly confusing, their annual publication, "Summary of
Vital Statistics for New York" is indispensable for would be students
of population dynamics. And it's free. Call the Press Office at
212-788-5290 and ask for the Office of Vital Statistics and
New York City Department
of City Planning - One would think that the DCP would have put its
population data base on-line in a user-friendly way. But no. Go figure.
It's still worth looking at their website to see the lineup of
potential sources and types of population and economic information.
York City's Housing and Vacancy Survey - Every three years or so
the US Census Bureau provides New York City with a census-type survey
of the city's households. Mandated by the rent regulation law, it
contains much that is of interest to those concerned with social and
economic change at the borough and neighborhood level. A compact disc
containing the microdata files for the 1991, 1993 and 1996 surveys can
be purchased from the Census Bureau. The survey for 1999 will be
available for analysts by 2000, scooping the decennial Census.