Tuesday, September 22, 2009

American Community Survey data on the Korean-American population

If you've ever had to dig up demographic information for Americans as a whole or some subset (gender, ethnic, religious, age, etc.) of the US population, you might be familiar with the American Community Survey. It's sort of the "Census Lite" in terms of how many people it analyzes, but it goes into considerable detail that, statistically, can be extrapolated to the broader population.

While perusing the Los Angeles edition of the Korea Times, I ran across a story on the sorry state of English ability among Korean immigrants to the US. Specifically, 58% of the Korean immigrants are poor at English, and 80% speak only Korean at home.

Anyway, I decided to go straight to the source, and I found a nice and concise list of fun facts on the kyopo immigrant community as a whole. Most of the findings are on demographic spread which are of interest in and of themselves, but this part about undocumented migrants caught my attention:
In 2007, 2 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States were from Korea.
The Office of Immigration Statistics has estimated that 230,000, or 2 percent, of the approximately 11.8 million unauthorized migrants in January 2007 were born in Korea.

The number of unauthorized immigrants from Korea increased 31 percent between 2000 and 2007.
The estimated number of unauthorized immigrants from Korea has increased 31 percent since 2000, rising from 180,000 to 230,000.
Interesting. While South Koreans are statistically at parity when it comes to unauthorized immigrants (about two percent of legal immigrants and two percent of unauthorized immigrants), the overall number is puts the number of "illegals" at about one-fifth of all South Korean immigrants.

There are some positive things as well:
More than half of Korean foreign-born adults had a bachelor’s or higher degree.
In 2007, 51.3 percent of the 850,000 Korean-born adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 27.0 percent among the 31.6 million foreign-born adults.

On the other end of the education continuum, about 9.5 percent of Korean immigrants had no high school diploma or the equivalent general education diploma (GED), compared to 31.9 percent among all foreign-born adults. About 20.7 percent of Korean-born adults had a high school diploma or GED compared to 24.0 percent among all foreign-born adults.
That's a nice counterbalance, I guess. Give the stats a read if you have time; it's not that long, but it is enlightening.


  1. "More than half of Korean foreign-born adults had a bachelor’s or higher degree."

    If we are talking about Korean immigrants in the US, then the correct phrasing sould be "Korea-born adults in the US."

  2. Well, I guess so, but given that the context of the above quote is clearly talking about people in the US, they probably would have dropped that prepositional phrase.


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