Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who is Coming to America?

From GOOD magazine.  If you look closely, this is essentially a bar chart dressed up, but it's the dressing up into the shape of the U.S. flag that catches your eye.  I love it!
Immigration may have taken a back seat during the financial crisis, but the issue still needs resolving. While illegal immigrants sneaking over the border is still a primary concern, it’s good to know who came to our country legally, and from where. Our latest Transparency is a look at the 20 countries from which the most people came to America in 2008, how many immigrants already had family here, and how many received asylum when they arrived on our shores.
Found on, thanks Nathan!


  1. It's a nice design, but it fails to communicate a coherent message. It's obvious to see that lots of people are immigrating from Mexico and from "all other countries" to the US, but that's about it. Who is next after that? You can see it's China, once you guess that the blocks of text with the detailed numbers are in descending order, but that's not obvious. The 3d American Flag layout of this graphic adds no information whatsoever, and actually forced the designer to scramble the data for the purpose of the display, which is poor practice. The design should serve the data, not the other way around. To convey this message, they would have been better off with just a table of numbers, with the country name in column 1, and the total in column 2. Then, you would immediately know which countries the greatest numbers of immigrants are coming from, without having to parse this arrangement. If you wanted to be able to compare them easily, a normal bar chart would have done the job better than this cryptic graphic.

  2. I find this chart confusing---where is Nigeria, with over 300,000 immigrants to the US each year? Was the point of the chart to make the Central American countries have more of a pull?