Country of Origin Comparison

Grade Levels: 8 - 12


  • Students will learn facts about U.S. demographics.
  • Students will interpret statistics.
  • Students will develop hypotheses and build supporting arguments.
  • Students will grow in their understanding of the driving forces behind immigration.


  • Reference materials


  1. Prepare two graphs titled, "Percent of U.S. Foreign Born" using the following data:
Region of birth reported
Year Total 1 Europe Asia Africa Oceania Latin America North America
2004 34,244,000 4,661,000 8,685,000 n.a n.a 18,314,000 n.a.
1990 19,767,316 4,350,403 4,979,037 363,819 104,145 8,407,837 753,917
1980 14,079,906 5,149,572 2,539,777 199,723 77,577 4,372,487 853,427
1970 9,619,302 5,740,891 824,887 80,143 41,258 1,803,970 812,421
1960 9,738,091 7,256,311 490,996 35,355 34,730 908,309 952,500
1930 14,204,149 11,784,010 275,665 18,326 17,343 791,840 1,310,369
1920 13,920,692 11,916,048 237,950 16,126 14,626 588,843 1,138,174
1910 13,515,886 11,810,115 191,484 3,992 11,450 279,514 1,209,717
1900 10,341,276 8,881,548 120,248 2,538 8,820 137,458 1,179,922
1890 9,249,5478,030,347113,3832,2079,353107,307980,938
18502,244,6022,031,8671,135551 588 20,773 147,711
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, February 22nd, 2005.
  1. Ask students to hypothesize the causes of the shifting ratios of national origins of immigrants. Hypotheses should consider driving forces including: world politics and economies, human rights issues, population density, technology (especially transportation and communications), American attitudes toward foreigners, U.S. law.
  2. Assign students to build supporting arguments for their hypotheses based on researched facts.
  3. Additional discussion topics may include:
    How would the experience of immigrants in 1900 differ from the experience of immigrants today? (mode of travel and time to complete journey, finding work, education of children in U.S., living conditions in U.S.)
  4. How would expectations of immigrants differ today from the expectations of immigrants in 1900? How would expectations be similar?


Provided by Infoplease—an authoritative, comprehensive reference website that offers an encyclopedia, a dictionary, an atlas, and several almanacs. Visit Infoplease.com to find more resources endorsed by teachers and librarians.

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