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Immigration Archives - Our Immigrants And The Future

OUR IMMIGRANTS AND THE FUTURE - NOT THE NUMBER BUT THE KIND OF IMMIGRANTS - RUSSIAN JEWS, SOUTH ITALIANS AND POLES AND SLOVAKS-GIVES GROUND FOR APPREHENSION BY E. DANA DURAND (THE DIRECTOR OF THE CENSOR)

THE agitation in recent years for a further restriction of immigration into the United States lends particular interest to the statistics published by the Census Bureau with reference to the foreign-born population of the country. These statistics show that, although there has been less increase in the foreign-born population during the last decade than is generally supposed, the change which has been going on in the composition of that population has been very great and furnishes food for serious thought if not for apprehension.

T00 much emphasis has perhaps been laid in recent popular discussion upon the increase in the number of immigrants. It is true that the number of immigrants reported for the decade 1900-1910 was nearly nine millions, two and one half times as many as for the preceding decade, and more than 75 per cent. greater than for 1880-1890, which was the decade of greatest immigration during the nineteenth century.

It must be remembered, however, that we now have a much larger population to absorb an increased immigration than we had before. Moreover, the net addition to the population through immigration during recent years has been much less than would be indicated by the number of immigrants. There has been a very large return current, the importance of which is often overlooked.

More than 2,576,000 immigrant aliens arrived in the country during the three years ending June 30, 1910, but during the same period a little more than 1,000,000 of the foreign born departed from this country, so that the net addition from immigration was only 1, 571,000. The census statistics of 1910 show that only about five million persons were then living in the United States who had come to this country since 1900. In other words, by reason of departure or death, the approximately nine millions of immigrants during the decade added only about five millions to the population of the country.

Nor does this mean that we have five million more foreign born in the country at the present time than we had ten years ago. The immigration has had to replace deaths and departures among the foreign born who were here in 1900. The actual addition to the foreign born white population has been only a little more than three millions, the figures being 10,214,000 for 1900 and 13,344,000 for 1910.

The rate of increase, which amounted to nearly 31 per cent., was, to be sure, decidedly greater than that during the same period in the native white population, which was 21 per cent.; and was, also, much greater than the increase in the foreign white population from 1890 to Iwo, which was 12 per cent. Nevertheless, the percentage of increase in the foreign white from 1900 to 1910 was less than in any other decade since 1830, except 1870 to 1880 and 1890 to 1900. Immigration comes in waves, being affected by variations in economic and political conditions abroad, and still more by variations in economic prosperity in this country.

The Effect of Economic Depression

The effect of business depression in checking immigration and increasing the return current to foreign countries was conspicuously shown even by the slight and temporary depression of 1907. Should there be any considerable halt in the prosperity of the country during the next decade, it is probable that the immigration would be less than during the past decade.

It is not true, therefore, that the foreign born constitute a larger proportion of the total population at the present time than ever before. The proportion of
foreign-born whites in 1910 was precisely the same as in 1890, 14.5 per cent. In fact, there has been no very conspicuous change since 1860.

In 1850 the foreign-born white population constituted 9.7 per cent. of the total. In 1860 the proportion rose to 13 per cent.; 1870, 14.2 per cent.; 1880, 13.1 per cent.; 1890, 14.5 per cent.; 1900, 13.4 per cent.; and 1910, 14.5 per cent. The number of the foreign born increased from only about four millions in 1860 to more than thirteen millions in 1910, but the native white population had trebled during the same period.

The Change in the Character of Our Immigrants

The really important thing is the change in the character of the foreign born who are coming to our shores. Prior to about 1890, much the greater proportion of the immigrants were from the countries of Northwestern Europe or from Canada. At the present time these countries contribute only a comparatively small part of the total, whereas the countries of Southern and Western Europe contribute more than two thirds.

For example, in the year 1882, in which the immigration was greater than dunng any other year of the nineteenth century, 251,000 of the 789,000 immigrants were from the German Empire; 106,000 from Scandinavian countries; and 179,000 from the United Kingdom—these countries together contributing five sixths of the total number of immigrants coming from Europe, and two thirds of the total from all countries combined.

In 1910, on the other hand, out of the 1,042,000 immigrants only 31,000 were from the German Empire, 48,000 from Scandinavian countries, and 99,000 from the United Kingdom, these countries furnishing less than one fifth of the total immigration. The combined immigration from all the countries just named in 1910 was less than that from Austria-Hungary alone, less than that from Italy alone, and less than that from the Russian Empire and Finland alone. The countries of Southern and Eastern Europe, which contributed only one tenth of the total immigration in 1882, contributed almost seven tenths in 1910.

The effect of this extraordinary change in the character of immigration is naturally shown only in much slighter degree in the census statistics of the foreign-born population. The foreign born now residing in the United States include a very large remainder of those who came in the earlier heavy immigration from Northern and Western Europe.

Nevertheless, the change is striking. In 186o, nearly 90 per cent. of the foreign-born whites in the United States consisted of persons born in Northwestern Europe. The proportion still stood at 79 per cent. in 189o, but by 1910 it had fallen to 51 per cent. On the other hand, persons born in Southern and Eastern Europe constituted only to per cent. of the foreign-born white population in 1890; in 1910 the proportion had risen to 37 per cent.

In 1910 there were in this country about 6,82o,000 persons born in Northwestern Europe, 4,900,000 born in Southern and Eastern Europe, and 1,565,000 born in other continents, three fourths of the latter being Canadians.

A somewhat more detailed statement of the changes that have taken place in the composition of the foreign-born white population since 1900 appears in the following table:

Countries Total 1910 Total 1900 Increase Percent 1900-1910 Percent Of Total Foreign-Born White
1910 1900
England, Scotland, and Wales 1,222,460 1,166,863 4.8 9.2 11.4
Ireland 1,352,564 1,615,232 -16. 10.1 15.8
Norway, Sweden, and Denmark 1,251,792 1,062,124

17.9

9.4 10.4
Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg 172,317 137,708 25.1 1.3 1.3
Germany 2,501,576 2,813,413 -11.1 18.7 27.5
France and Switzerland 242,060 219,612 10.2 1.8 2.1
Spain and Portugal 84,548 36,702 130.4 0.6 0.4
Northern and Western Europe 6,827,317 7,051,654 -3.2 51.1 69.0
Russia and Finland 1,708,356 640,710 166.6 12.8 6.3
Italy 1,342,800 483,963 177.5 10.1 4.7
Austria-Hungary 1,667,442 636,968 161.8 12.5 6.2
Balkan States and Turkey in Europe 147,346 24,928 370.7 .9 0.2
Greece 101,206 8,513 1088.8 0.8 0.1
Europe, not specified 23,940 22,573 6.1 0.2 0.2
Southern and Eastern Europe 4,961,090 1,817,655 172.9 37.1 17.8
Canada and Newfoundland 1,199,120 1,172,745 2.2 9.0 11.5
West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America 253,167 126,387 100.3 1.9 1.3
Asia, Africa, Australia, Oceanic Islands, etc. 115,656 45,376 154.9 0.9 0.4
Non-European Countries 1,567,943 1,344,508 16.6 11.7 13.2

THE FOREIGN-BORN WHITE POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES
IN THE YEARS 1900 AND 1910 SHOWN BY THE PRINCIPAL COUNTRIES OF BIRTH

It will be seen that the number of persons living in the United States who were born in Northwestern Europe, actually decreased from 1900 to 1910, while the number born in Southern and Eastern Europe increased 173 per cent. — not far from trebling in ten years. The Germans are still the most numerous single element in the foreign-born population, but they have decreased 11 per cent. since 1900.

The Irish, who ranked next to the Germans in number in 1900, have fallen off one sixth, and are now less numerous than the persons born in Russia and Finland, or than those born in Austria-Hungary, and only slightly exceed those born in Italy. It should be remembered that our population coming from Russia includes very few Russians proper, but is composed chiefly of Jews and Poles.

Persons born in Austria-Hungary include comparatively few of the German stock of that country, but consist mainly of Bohemians, Slovaks, Poles, and others of non-Teutonic origin. The Italians in this country are largely from Southern Italy, and are generally considered a less desirable element than the North Italians would be.

Especially striking are the percentages of increase in the number of those born in Greece and in the Balkan States and Turkey, although the absolute numbers are still comparatively small. Of persons born in Greece, there were nearly twelve times as many in 1910 as in 1900.

There has been no very great increase in the aggregate number of persons born in non-European countries, although those born in Mexico and in Turkey in Asia show high percentages of increase.

The statistics in the preceding table relate only to the white population. It is a well-known fact that almost none of the Negroes or Indians in this country were born abroad, but that, on the other hand, nearly all our Chinese and Japanese
population is of foreign birth.

Owing to the restrictive laws the number of Chinese in the United States has steadily declined since 1880, but there has been a very rapid increase in the number of Japanese. In 1890 there were only about 2,000 Japanese in this country, in 1910 more than 70,000. The Chinese numbered 107,000 in 1890; at present they are about 70,000.

Statistics comparing the total number of the foreign born with that of the native population fail to show the full importance of the former in the economic and social life of the country, for the reason that the age and sex distribution of the one class is very different from that of the other. Adult immigrants relatively far outnumber immigrant children.

A large proportion of the children of the foreign born are born after their parents reach this country, and swell the total of the native population with which the foreign born are compared. How different is the age composition of the two classes may be seen from the fact that, in 1900 (figures for 1910 not yet issued), of the total number of foreign-born whites, 95 per cent. were 15 years or more of age, while of the native whites only about 61 per cent were as old as that.

For this reason the foreign born constitute a much larger percentage of the adult population than they do of the total population. In 1900 of the total number of persons of all races of fifteen years of age and over, nearly one fifth (19.7 per cent.) were whites born abroad; while, of the total number of whites of that age, the foreign-born were 21.9 per cent.

Again, there is a large and increasing preponderance of males among the foreign-born population. The earlier immigration, coming mostly from Northern and Western Europe, was much more largely a movement of families than the present immigration is, although the Jewish immigrants from Russia come mostly in families. Thousands of the more recent immigrants are married men who leave their families behind and come to this country for temporary employment only.

For the year 1910, the male immigrants were nearly two and a half times as numerous as the female immigrants, 736,038 as compared with 335,532. The figures, however, give a somewhat exaggerated impression of the preponderance of males in the net addition to the population from immigration, as there is, however, a still greater proportionate excess of males in the returning current of emigration.

Nevertheless, it appears that among the foreign-born whites in the United States in 1910, who had been in this country les than ten years, there were 155 males to every 100 females. Of all foreign-born whites combined, the males numbered 7,522,000 and the females 5,821,000„ or 129 males to every 100 females; in 1900 the proportion was 117 to 10o. These figures contrast strikingly with the sex distribution of the native white population, in which there were 103 males per 10o females.

The combined effect of the disparity in age distribution and that in sex distribution is shown in the fact that the foreign born constitute a very much larger proportion of the males of voting age (21 years and over) than they do of the total population. In 1900 the foreign-born whites were no less than 23 per cent. of the total number of males of voting age, and it is probable that the figures for the census of 1910, when available, will show them to constitute fully one fourth of the total number.

Of the white men of voting age in the country in 1900, those born abroad constituted 26 per cent. Of course it should not be understood that any such proportion of the actual voters were born in foreign countries, for many of the immigrants have not yet become naturalized, and the proportion not naturalized is, in fact, also increasing.

The question as to the desirability or undesirability of any given class of immigrants depends less upon the characteristics of the immigrants themselves than upon the characteristics of their children born in this country and of their children's children — chiefly upon the degree to which they become assimilated to the older native stock in respect to language, customs, and ideas.

The census of 1910 will for the first time present statistics showing the principal characteristics of the persons born in each foreign country, and also of the natives whose parents were born in each foreign country. The data, however, are not yet available. It is possible now to show the magnitude of the class of native persons of foreign parentage.

The population of the United States in 1910 was made up of the following elements:

The Elements of Population in 1910
Element Number Percent
White    
- Native, total 68,389,104 74.4
- - Native parents 49,488,441 53.8
- - Foreign-born parents 18,900,663 20.6
- Foreign-born 13,343,583 14.5
Negro 9,828,294 10.7
Indian 265,683 0.3
Chinese 70,944 0.1
Japanese 71,722 0.1
Other Asiatics 2,936  
Total 91,972,266 100.0

The native whites of foreign parentage (i. e., with either one or both parents foreign born) constitute more than one fifth of the total population of the country and nearly one fourth of the total white population. This class, together with the whites who were themselves born abroad, number more than thirty-two millions and constitute 35 per cent. of the total population of the country, and almost two fifths of the total white population.

The economic, social, and political difficulties due to heavy immigration are greatly increased by the exceedingly unequal geographic distribution of the immigrants. The foreign born have largely, concentrated in cities, and most of them have settled in the northern and western states, very few going to the South.

In 1910 there were about 9,640,000 foreign-born whites in urban communities (i. e., places of 2, 500 or more inhabitants) and only about 3,700,000 in rural communities. Thus, 72 per cent. live in cities; the corresponding figure for 1890 was 61 per cent. To put the matter in another way, the census of 1910 shows that, of the total urban population of the country, considerably more than one fifth, 22.6 per cent., consists of foreign-born whites, while of the rural population they constitute only 7.5 per cent.

The recent immigrants from southern and eastern. Europe have gone very largely to the cities. Of the persons born in these countries and resident in the United States in 1910, no less than 78 per cent. were found in urban communities. Among all the foreign-born nationalities, the Irish have shown the greatest preference for urban life, more than five sixths of all persons born in Ireland who lived in the United States in 1910 being city dwellers.

The proportion of the natives of foreign parentage who live in cities is also much larger than in the case of the natives of native parentage. Of the total urban population in 1900 the foreign-born whites plus the native whites of foreign parentage represented more than one half (53 per cent.).

It is probable that the marked increase in the tendency of the foreign born to settle in cities is due, not so much to the change in the character of the immigrants themselves, as to the fact that free public lands and lands that can be purchased for low prices have largely disappeared, so that the immigrants more and more seek manufacturing industries rather than agriculture. There has, however, never been a time when the immigration was chiefly to agricultural communities, and it is probable that, at no time since 1850 have less than 5o per cent. of the foreign born been city dwellers.

In many of the larger cities of the country the foreign born decidedly outnumber the native population of native parentage. New York City, which is to-day the largest organized municipality in the world, is probably also the most heterogeneous in its population. In 1910, of the 4,767,000 inhabitants of the metropolis, 1,928,000 (or more than two fifths) were foreign-born whites.

The native whites whose parents were born abroad numbered 1,82o,000, or almost another two fifths. The native whites of native parentage numbered only 921,000, or less than half as many as the foreign-born whites. Of the adult white population of the city more than 45 per cent. are foreign born.

The extraordinary growth of New York City has been very largely due. to immigration. The number of the foreign-born whites in the city increased nearly 700,000 during the last decade, while the number of native whites of native parents increased less than 200,000. Nearly one fourth of the total increase in foreign born population in the United States occurred in this one city.

Several of the other large cities of the country fall but little below New York in the proportion of the foreign born. In Chicago more than one third (35.7 per cent.) of the total population is of foreign birth, more than two fifths are natives whose parents were born abroad, and only a little more than one fifth are native whites of native parentage.

In Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit the proportions are not very different from those in Chicago. In Milwaukee, which was a mecca for German immigration two or three decades ago, there is a larger proportion of native whites of foreign parentage than in any other city, namely, 49 per cent., but the proportion of persons themselves born abroad is somewhat lower than for the cities mentioned above, being about 30 per cent.

Of the nineteen cities of more than 250,000 inhabitants, there are nine in which the foreign-born whites exceed the native whites of native parentage. In all but four of these nineteen cities the foreign-born whites plus the native whites of foreign parentage constitute more than half of the total population, the exceptions being Baltimore, New Orleans, Washington, and Los Angeles. The tremendous economic, political, and social importance of the foreign elements in these great cities would be even more forcibly shown by the percentages which they constitute of the total adult population.

The differences between the several grand geographical sections of the country with respect to the proportion of the foreign born are largely due to the differences in the proportion of urban population. Where cities abound, the foreign born and their immediate descendants are the most numerous. The following table shows for four great groups of states the percentages of the total population, represented by the several main classes.

The proportion of the foreign element is highest in the North Atlantic states, including New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In these states one fourth of the total population consists of whites born abroad, while they, together with the native whites whose parents were born abroad, constitute 55 per cent. of the total number. New England, once looked upon as the most essentially American section of the country, now has less than two fifths of its population consisting of the native born of native parentage. There has been a decided increase in the proportion of the foreign born in the North Atlantic states during the past decade.

Very large numbers of the foreign born and their immediate descendants are also found in the remainder of the Northern states and in the West. The proportion is, however, lower than in the North Atlantic states. In the North Central states, moreover, the native whites of foreign parentage are one and two thirds times as numerous as the foreign whites, while in the North Atlantic states the former class does not greatly exceed the latter in number.

This difference is due to the fact that the recent immigration has more largely gone to the North Atlantic states while the effect of the older immigration to the central sections of the country is shown in the large proportion of the second generation.
The South has comparatively few of the foreign born or of their immediate descendants, the two classes combined being only about one fifteenth of the total population. This is partly due to the

Trend of Immigration To Congest Where Great Cities Are
   
  North Atlantic States North Central States Western States Southern States
Total population, 1910 25,868,573 29,888,542 6,825,821 29,389,330
  Percent of total
Native white, native parents 1910 42.8 54.4 52.4 63.1
Native white, native parents 1900 47.1 53.7 49.4 60.6
Native white, foreign parents 1910 29.6 27.8 24.5 4.3
Native white, foreign parents 1900 28.4 28.4 26.7 4.5
Foreign-born white, 1910 25.7 15.7 19.0 2.5
Foreign-born white, 1900 22.5 15.8 18.6 2.3
Negro and other colored 1910 1.9 2.1 4.1 30.1
Negro and other colored 1900 1.9 2.1 5.3 32.6

fact that the Southern states are still primarily agricultural and partly to the presence of the Negroes, who perform the cheap labor which in the North falls so largely to the foreign element. The proportion of foreign born in the Southern states has increased but little since 1900, and the proportion of native whites of foreign parentage has actually decreased.

Such efforts as have been made to distribute immigration more widely over the country have thus far had little success. Of the total increase of 3,130,000 in the foreign-born population of the entire country from 1900 to 1910, more than 1,900,000 was in the North Atlantic states, and most of the remainder was either in the eastern part of the North Central section or in the Mountain and Pacific Coast states.

It is obviously highly desirable that more vigorous measures for the dispersion of the incoming thousands should be undertaken. The high prices of agricultural products point to the need of more intensive cultivation of the soil. A large proportion of our immigrants were, in their home lands, farmers accustomed to such intensive cultivation.

In the past the wages of farm labor — account being taken of the usual lack of continuous employment — have been relatively lower than city wages, but it is doubtful whether, cost of living considered, this is now true, and certainly it cannot long remain true.

The chief factor which will continue to draw the new arrival to the city is the presence there already of most of the fellow-countrymen, friends, and relatives who have come to America before him. Whether this " snowball" influence can be overcome by any practicable means remains to be seen.

THE WORLD'S WORK, FEBRUARY, 1912, VOLUME XXIII NUMBER 4

A SHIPLOAD FROM SOUTHERN ITALY
A PART OF THE 2,576,000 IMMIGRANT ALIENS WHO CAME TO THIS COUNTRY DURING THE THREE YEARS ENDING JUNE 30, 1910

LEAVING NEW YORK FOR EUROPE IN THE PANIC YEAR 1907

DURING THE THREE YEARS ENDING JUNE 30, 1910, MORE THAN A MILLION OF THE FOREIGN BORN RETURNED TO EUROPE, LEAVING A NET INCREASE OF ABOUT A MILLION AND A HALF

Photograph by Brown Bros.
A TWENTIETH CENTURY PURITAN
A MODERN IMMIGRANT OF THE CLASS THAT HUDDLES IN THE GREAT CITIES. THE CENSUS OF 1910 SHOWS THAT IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK MORE THAN 45 PER CENT. OF THE ADULT WHITE POPULATION WERE FOREIGN BORN. NEARLY A FOURTH OF THE TEN YEARS' INCREASE IN FOREIGN BORN POPULATION IN THE UNITED STATES OCCURRED IN THIS ONE CITY

A RUSSIAN JEWISH QUARTER
A PROBLEM BROUGHT BY THE LATER DAY IMMIGRATION

SCANDINAVIAN FARMERS IN THE NORTHWEST
A PART OF THE OLDER STREAM OF IMMIGRATION, THE BACKBONE OF MANY COUNTIES IN IOWA, MINNESOTA, AND WISCONSIN, AND THE STATES FARTHER WEST

CANADIAN LUMBERMEN IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
THERE ARE MORE THAN A MILLION CANADIANS IN THIS COUNTRY BUT THE NUMBER HAS INCREASEDONLY 1.2 PER CENT IN THE LAST DECADE

A POLISH STEEL WORKER
OF THE BETTER CLASS OF THE IMMIGRANTS FROMSOUTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE

AN IRISH POLICEMAN
A TYPE OF THE OLD STRAIN OF IMMIGRATION FROMTHE BRITISH ISLES AND NORTHERN EUROPE

UNWELCOMED WORKERS
THE JAPANESE OF WHOM THERE ARE ONLY 71,722 IN THIS COUNTRY

A TYPICAL DAY LABORER
ONE OF THE 1,342,800 ITALIANS IN THIS COUNTRY

A GERMAN FARMER'S HOUSE IN THE SOUTH
THE 2,501,576 GERMANS ARE STILL THE MOST NUMEROUS FOREIGN BORN IN THE COUNTRY THOUGH ONLY A FEW ARE IN THE SOUTHERN STATES WHICH HAVE ONLY
2.5 PER CENT. OF FOREIGN BORN

 

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