Macro-Level Dimensions and Push Effects on Sub-Saharan African Immigrants to the United States: 1991-2000

  • Siaw Akwawua University of Northern Colorado
Keywords: Immigration, Highly Skilled Professionals, Emigration Pressures, Political Oppression, Corruption, Military Dictatorships, Civil Wars


The immigration of Sub-Saharan Africans to the United States has a long history dating back to trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century, when the flows were mainly involuntary. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voluntary immigration gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s and accelerated in the 1990s. Using the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service data, this article examines three dimensions of recent flows of Sub-Saharan African immigrants for fiscal years 1991-2000. These are: the size of the flow, the composition and characteristics of the stream, and the emigration dynamics underlying the flow. The results show that all Sub-Saharan African countries have become zones of emigration and that increasing immigration to the U.S. is fueled by the presence of military despots and corrupt, sit-tight and ethnic-oriented political leadership that oversee economic deterioration, civil wars and population displacements. An analysis of occupational structure shows that Sub-Saharan African immigrants are of very high quality, with 44 percent being classified as professional/executive compared to 42 percent for the total world migrant stock in the U.S. The argument that remittances from immigrants rival the value of primary agricultural and mineral exports in some countries must be countered against the loss of educated and skilled labor in this era of technological innovations.


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