Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Size of Ethiopian Population in the United States

By Fikru Helebo

One of the big news items of the day in the United States is about the US surpassing the 300 million mark in population count. This figure is a statistical projection and not the actual count of people who reside in the US. This got me thinking about the size of the Ethiopian population in the US. How large is it?
That depends on whom you ask.

An Ethiopian would probably estimate the Ethiopian population in the US to be any where from 200,000 to 300,000. The estimate from an expert in the US Census Bureau, on the other hand, will probably be a lot lower than that. According to the last US census in 2000, the estimated number of people in the US who were born in Ethiopia was 69,530. This figure does not include those persons who were born in the US. I suppose most Ethiopians in the US will dispute this figure as being low.

I do not know what formula the US Census Bureau used to come up with a number like the one above, but I am pretty sure the Bureau used the raw data that it collected from the "long form" that it sent out to about one sixth of US households in the last census to arrive at that number. The accuracy of the Ethiopian population estimate in the US depends on the diligence of members of the Ethiopian community in the US who received the long form in the 2000 census. If every member of the Ethiopian community (of all ethnic backgrounds) wrote down "Ethiopia" as his/her answer to question #12 (Where was this person born?) in the 2000 census, then the 69,530 figure is a statistically accurate figure. If that was not the case, which is quite likely, then the 69,530 figure can not be relied upon.

If the Ethiopian community in the US want their numbers to be reflected fairly in the next census, which is scheduled to take place in 2010, then we need to educate our community about the benefits that can be derived from a count that is as accurate as possible. It will be hard to convice the newer immigrants amongst us about these benefits, but we need to inform them that information collected in the US census is confidential and will remain so for the next 72 years and they should fill out the questionairre as accurately as possible. The census is only four years from now and this is not the time to slouch.

Update (03/2010): Revisiting Size of Ethiopian Population in the US

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