The data on place of birth were derived from answers to Question 7. Respondents were asked to select one of two categories: (1) in the United States, or (2) outside the United States. In the American Community Survey, respondents selecting category (1) were then asked to report the name of the state while respondents selecting category (2) were then asked to report the name of the foreign country, or Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. In the Puerto Rico Community Survey, respondents selecting category (1) were also asked to report the name of the state, while respondents selecting category (2) were then asked to print Puerto Rico or the name of the foreign country, or U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, etc. People not reporting a place of birth were assigned the state or country of birth of another family member, or were allocated the response of another individual with similar characteristics. People born outside the United States were asked to report their place of birth according to current international boundaries. Since numerous changes in boundaries of foreign countries have occurred in the last century, some people may have reported their place of birth in terms of boundaries that existed at the time of their birth or emigration, or in accordance with their own national preference.
The place of birth questions along with the citizenship status question provide essential data for setting and evaluating immigration policies and laws. Knowing the characteristics of immigrants helps legislators and others understand how different immigrant groups are assimilated. Federal agencies require these data to develop programs for refugees and other foreign-born individuals. Vital information on lifetime migration among states also comes from the place of birth question.
Information on place of birth and citizenship status was used to classify the population into two major categories: native and foreign born.
The native population includes anyone who was a U.S. citizen at birth. The native population includes those born in the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as those born abroad of at least one U.S. citizen parent. The native population is divided into the following groups: people born in the state in which they resided at the time of the survey; people born in a different state, by region; people born in Puerto Rico or one of the U.S. Island Areas; and people born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent. (See also "Citizenship Status.")
The foreign-born population includes anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. This includes respondents who indicated they were a U.S. citizen by naturalization or not a U.S. citizen. (See also "Citizenship Status.")
The foreign-born population is shown by selected area, country, or region of birth. The places of birth shown in data products were chosen based on the number of respondents who reported that area or country of birth.
The 1996-1998 American Community Survey question asked respondents to write in the U.S. state, territory, commonwealth or foreign country where this person was born. Beginning in 1999, the question asked "Where was this person born?" and provided two check-boxes, each with a write-in space.
Beginning in 2006, the group quarters (GQ) population is included in the ACS. Some types of GQ populations may have place of birth distributions that are different from the household population. The inclusion of the GQ population could therefore have a noticeable impact on the place of birth distribution. This is particularly true for areas with a substantial GQ population.
This data source is comparable to the decennial censuses. See the 2011 Code List for Place of Birth Code List.