In this week’s post, we will explore the world regions from which New Jersey’s foreign-born populations originate. Last week, we showed that more recent immigrants to New Jersey tend to be from countries in Asia and the Americas. In the years before 1970, New Jersey’s foreign-born population was dominated by Europeans. However, the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 helped to change the demographics of immigrants. The Act, which abolished an earlier quota system based on national origin and established new policy based on reuniting families and attracting skilled labor to the United States, paved the way for immigrants from a greater diversity of nations to enter the country.
The figure on the right shows the dramatic changes in the world region of origin of New Jersey’s foreign-born population that have taken place in the five decades since the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act. In 1970, nearly three-quarters of all foreign-born New Jersey residents were of European origin. However, in 2010-2014 Europeans comprised just 16.4% of all foreign-born New Jersey residents. Over this same period, the share of foreign-born residents of Asian origin grew from 4.3% to 31.8% of New Jersey’s foreign-born population, while the share of residents from the Americas grew from 17.8% to 46.6%.[i]
In the map below, we dive deeper and explore the world region of origin of foreign-born residents in New Jersey’s neighborhoods. Neighborhoods are shaded to indicate the predominant world region of birth in the area. Data used in the map is slightly more detailed than the data used in the pie charts, which, due to limitations of data from 1970, are unable to show breakdowns of sub-regions within the Americas.
Currently, residents of Asian origin tend to predominate in neighborhoods of the central New Jersey counties of Middlesex, Somerset, and Mercer, as well as the northern counties of Bergen, Morris, and Passaic. Residents of South American, Central American, and Caribbean origins tend to predominate in neighborhoods of the state’s urban centers, such as Newark and the Oranges, urban Hudson County, Elizabeth, Paterson, Passaic, Trenton, and Camden.
Use the map to explore the world regions of origin of foreign-born residents in your own neighborhood.
[i] The Americas includes residents from countries in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, as well as North America.