NC in Focus: Foreign-Born Asian Population, 1980 to 2012-2014

North Carolina’s foreign-born population has grown by more than 800% over the past 35 years. In 1980, fewer than 80,000 North Carolina residents had been born in another country to non-citizen parents. By the 2012-2014 time period, more than 750,000 North Carolina residents were foreign-born. Most of this growth was driven by the increases in the populations born in Latin America (Central and South America) and Asia. This post focuses on trends in the foreign-born Asian population living in the state.

Between 1980 and 2012-14, North Carolina’s foreign-born Asian population increased by more than 163,000 residents, a growth rate of 760%. The state growth mirrored the large and rapid growth nationwide. Nationally, the foreign-born Asian population grew from 2.6 million to 12.5 million over this time period, an increase of 9.5 million and a growth rate of 372%.

In 1980, fewer than 22,000 foreign-born Asian individuals were living in North Carolina. Japan was the most common country of origin, followed by India. The number of Asian-born North Carolinians grew in the following decade, reaching nearly 37,000 in 1990. Over the next 20 years, North Carolina’s foreign-born Asian population increased rapidly, reaching more than 157,000 by 2009-11 and growing to 185,000 by 2012-14.

Since 1990, India has been the leading country of birth for North Carolina’s foreign-born Asian population. Nearly 60,000 Indian-born individuals were living in the state according to the 2012-2014 American Community Survey data, representing nearly one-third of North Carolina’s Asian immigrants. China (27,000), Vietnam (25,000), the Phillippines (18,000), and Korea (15,000) are the next most common countries of birth. Together, these 5 countries account for 78% of all Asian immigrants in North Carolina.

All data were retrieved from IPUMS-USA. The 1980, 1990, and 2000 data are drawn from the decennial census files and the 2009-11 and 2012-14 estimates are from American Community Survey data.

About Rebecca Tippett

Rebecca Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography at UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina Population Center.
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