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The African Wave

The influx of immigrants from Latin America to the United States has wrought a major demographic transformation over the last decade, with the U.S. Latino population projected to reach 76 million by 2025. But before long, according to new research, Latin Americans will account for a shrinking percentage of the emigrant population heading stateside and ...

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The influx of immigrants from Latin America to the United States has wrought a major demographic transformation over the last decade, with the U.S. Latino population projected to reach 76 million by 2025. But before long, according to new research, Latin Americans will account for a shrinking percentage of the emigrant population heading stateside and Africans will start to make up a larger share.

According to professors Timothy J. Hatton and Jeffrey G. Williamson of Australian National University and Harvard University, respectively, overall emigration rates out of developing countries are declining. The trends that brought immigrants to the United States over the last 20 years—rising youth populations, sinking wages for educated workers—are now running in reverse. The one exception is Africa, where the yawning wage gap with the developed world shows no sign of closing while a growing U.S. diaspora can offer connections and cash to help ease the journey.

Hatton and Williamson expect the demographic shifts will take some getting used to—particularly as the recession chills American attitudes toward incoming workers. Still, the professors write, "While new and unfamiliar immigrants often meet with a cool reception, society adjusts to them in the long run."

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