Not everyone wants to live in the United States, a new study discloses, and about 10 million persons have left the country since 1900.
Although newcomers to America have drawn much attention and controversy over the years, the outgoing tide has largely been ignored, according to a study, "The Elusive Exodus: Emigration from the United States."
30 Million Immigrants
"Since the turn of the century, the ratio of immigration to emigration has been 3 to 1. The 30 million legal immigrants the U.S. admitted between 1900 and 1980 must be balanced against 10 million emigrants who left to go elsewhere," the study says.
The number of emigrants, generally uncounted through U.S. history, was calculated by Robert Warren of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and Ellen Percy Kraly of Colgate University, using information compiled from a variety of sources. Their work was published last week by the private, nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based research group.
The authors say it is not surprising that in the early years of this century many new arrivals returned home disillusioned or moved on to unexplored frontiers such as Canada.
Between 1900 and World War I, for example, more than 13 million immigrants arrived in the United States. The net addition to the population was much less, however, because about 4 million returned to Europe during the same years, most departing within five years of their arrival.
In more recent years, the researchers found, the flow out of the United States gained momentum during the 1960s and is continuing, with an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 U.S. residents leaving annually--although the majority of those departing were not U.S. citizens.
During the first half of the 1960s, the authors estimate, the average annual emigration from the United States was just over 66,000. That rose to more than 150,000 a year between 1965 and 1969 and was calculated at more than 280,000 in the early 1970s.
From 1960 to 1976, Mexico was the No. 1 destination for departing U.S. residents, receiving 64,600 emigrants a year, Warren and Kraly calculated.
Second was West Germany, averaging 24,800 annually, followed by Canada, 21,900, the United Kingdom, 20,900, and Japan, 17,200.
However, the authors noted that their calculations are estimates, and they called for collection of more statistics on emigrants to learn more about the number departing and their destinations.
Such statistics have not been compiled by the government since 1957, they noted.
'Revolving Door' System
A more detailed understanding of emigration would allow the United States to set its immigration goals on the basis of net gain rather than the total number of arrivals, Warren and Kraly said in their study.
Perhaps, they suggested, a "revolving door" system could be established in which additional newcomers could be admitted to balance those immigrants who decided to return home or go on to some other country.