Mary Buchanan, Mark Abraham (DataHaven)
August 08, 2015
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
With one in eight of its residents foreign-born, Greater New Haven has a diverse immigrant population that has contributed significantly to regional growth and development. Commissioned by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, DataHaven analyzed the recent demographic, social, and economic impact of immigration in the region.
The study found that from 2000 to 2012, 75 percent of regional population growth was due to immigrants. About a quarter of all Greater New Haven immigrants were born in either Asia or Europe, while the populations each from Central America and Africa doubled between 2000 and 2012. Foreign-born residents of Greater New Haven, who are more likely to be employed than native-born people, are also highly educated — there are two “high-skilled” immigrant workers for every one “low-skilled” immigrant worker. Immigrant families have also brought increased diversity to New Haven’s schools. In fact, students of Greater New Haven public schools speak over 100 different languages at home.
New Haven’s foreign-born population has reshaped the region in other ways, such as contributing to the resiliency of the city. Generally, the study found that naturalized citizens in New Haven have higher rates of homeownership. Foreign-born residents are also more likely to own small businesses in the community. A close look at the Ninth Square neighborhood in downtown New Haven revealed 18 businesses owned by immigrants or children of immigrants — one-third of which had been started in the past decade. Fourteen countries of birth or ancestry, excluding the U.S., were represented among Ninth Square business-owners.
The growing immigrant population has brought foreign influences to many local cultural elements including cuisine, music, visual and performance art, and literature. In response to a DataHaven survey, 76 percent of respondents in the Greater New Haven region said that increased diversity due to immigration helps the existing culture in Connecticut.