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Is it possible to find out the census of Bosnian immigrants (or the Bosnian Population in US) in the USA, for each individual state?
May 16, 2007 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find out the census of Bosnian immigrants (or the Bosnian Population in US) in the USA, for each individual state? If so, how can I go about doing that task? I am working on a Bosnian/American statistics maps and I am in a need of state census reports for each state. I don't know if this is hard to obtain, but some helpful leads would be great. Thanks in advance!

Is it possible to find out the census of Bosnian immigrants (or the Bosnian Population) in the USA, for each individual state? If so, how can I go about doing that task?

I am working on a Bosnian/American statistics maps and I am in a need of state census reports for each state. I don't know if this is hard to obtain, but some helpful leads would be great.

Thanks in advance!
posted by cheero to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
 
I'm a Bosnian immigrant. The problem you may have is that these statistics would have been last officially compiled during the 2000 US Census, and a lot has changed since then:

1) Many Bosnians have returned home.
2) Many others have come over as their close relatives have gained citizenship and achieved enough to sponsor them.
3) There are specific areas of the country where Bosnians tend to congregate; these have shifted in recent years for various reasons.

For instance, Chicago was the location of the largest number of Bosnian immigrants around the time of the war. Part of this is because Chicago has, for a long time, had a considerable population of Serbs and Croats (and even a hundred year-old history of Bosnian Muslim immigrants) and there were good social services to support them. Chicago's large number of Slavic communities was a factor too.

But, many Bosnians have left Chicago to join more recent immigrants who live in the outskirts of New York City and New Jersey. Many Bosnians have left for Missouri, Iowa and Kansas - often lured there by steady employment in meat-packing companies.

Those are just a couple of examples to show that 2000 Census figures would be pretty unreliable in 2007. The Bosnian population isn't that stable considering that many who came over were quite young and almost all of this immigration occurred more recently than the early 1990's.

The Bosnian Refugee Center in Chicago might have been a good source, but apparently it closed last year when state funding was denied:

http://mesh.medill.northwestern.edu/mnschicago/archives/2006/07/northside_bosni.html

There are some names on there which might be of help.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2007


This is going to be a challenge.

I did something similar to this with the 2000 census about three years ago. I was looking for population stats on particular national groups, and I was interested in the county level. It really isn't possible to get a good number from the U.S. census. There are two numbers that you can get, and both are going to be problematic for you.

The first number you can get is the number of people who report a specific ancestry. The ancestry question is based on self-reporting, and it's totally subjective. You should also keep in mind that a lot of people refuse to answer the question, and I imagine that people who have recently experienced or witnessed ethnic cleansing are going to be particularly wary of reporting their ethnicity to the government. It's an interesting number, but you have to be very, very careful about how you use it.

The second number is the number of foreign-born people who were born in a particular country. I can't remember if the 2000 census also asks where your parents were born: I know that a lot of earlier censuses did. I have no idea how they deal with changes in national borders, though, which is going to be an issue for you, since most Bosnian-Americans were born in what was then Yugoslavia, not Bosnia. Also, I have no idea whether you're looking for ethnic Bosnians or people who were born in the territory of Bosnia. I don't think that the American census is going to get at ethnic Bosnians, except through that highly-problematic ancestry question.

I found the census pretty difficult to deal with, and I don't remember where I finally found this data. They've got a website, but it's not very user-friendly. I definitely did this research at a university library, and I think I may have used their census data CD-roms, rather than the website.

Finally, 2000 data is getting a little stale.
posted by craichead at 10:42 AM on May 16, 2007


Lots of Bosnians in Los Angeles, but you wouldn't know it. The thing I found is that they congregate together mostly in the local Serbian churches on holidays. So that might be a place to start asking around.

As was previously mentioned, due to the sensitivity about being Yugoslavian/Bosnian/Serb/Croatian/etc. it might be tricky to find any paperwork or statistics that only lists the category you want. I could be wrong, but that's my thought.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2007


I've used Census data tools extensively. Your question touches on a few different concerns, some of which are very easy to deal with, others not so.

First, to get national ancestry data by state is very easy. Just go to American FactFinder.

Which Data Set you use is part of the more difficult issue: as others have said, Census 2000 data is available for every geography, and is complete, but getting a little stale. Lots of people, including local governments, still use 2000 data, so don't worry too much about that if you don't desperately need recent data.

The American Community Survey, which is replacing the Census Long Form for demographic sample data, has much more recent information (2005 is the most recent release), and has very comparable information as the Census long form. Unfortunately, not all the states will be able to return data for Ancestry information. The reason for this is because the number of individual cases for any given ancestry is very low, so smaller states will run afoul of confidentiality protection. Come 2010, multi-year averages will be available for all ACS data at all geographies.

(once you navigate to American FactFinder, just click on "Data Sets," and choose from the contextual menu "Decennial Census" or "American Community Survey." For Census, choose Summary File 3 (Sample Data). Choose "Detailed Tables." Select your geographies (States->All States), and pick the table you want (For Decennial Census, PCT16 and PCT 17; for ACS B04001 and B04002), and click "Show Result." You can download the result in comma-delimited files or Excel spreadsheets.)

Now, the larger conceptual problem that others have alluded to is that you may not be able to find the specific information you are looking for. There aren't any responses for specifically "Bosnian," either in the Decennial Census or ACS. Many people put down "Yugoslavian," or "Serbian," or "Croatian," but that may not be exactly what you are looking for, and depending on the level of specificity you need in determining which ancestry someone has reported, the data may not exist anywhere.

Other issues: of course, this is self-reported data, so it is subject to the biases and errors, both sampling and non-sampling, that go along with such a survey. Also, be aware that ancestry is a question based on a person's report of their family history, rather than just immigrants or expatriates.
posted by Eldritch at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2007


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