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Background Paper on

Metro-Dade County Planning Department
Research Division
909 SE 1 Avenue, Suite 900
Miami, Fl 33131

January 6, 1985


Implications of the Reagan Administration Agreements....................
The Cuban Born Population.............................................................
Natives of Cuban Parentage.............................................................
Cuban Birth Rates...........................................................................
Annual Data on Cuban Immigration.................................................
The Cuban Impact on Dade's Future Population..............................


Implications of the Reagan Administration Agreements

The recent discussions and agreements reached by the governments of the United States and Cuba will have an immediately and long term influence on the number of Cubans entering Dade County.  What are the elements of these agreements and what will be the quantitative result as they are implemented?

The first result, and it is essential, is a normalization of immigration procedures between Cuba and the United States.  This means that Cuban nationals who wish to emigrate and can qualify will be eligible to receive preference visas.  A maximum of 20,000 persons per year could enter the United States this way.  In addition, immigrant visas will be granted to spouses, parents and unmarried children below 21 years of age of United States citizens.  These are not counted against the 20,000 limit.  This category may comprise about 2,000 persons annually.  Also, over and above the quota are persons classified as refugees; basically political prisoners and their families.  The actual number is set each year by the State Department with Congressional consent.  It is thought that about 15,000 to 20,000 of these persons may be allowed in over a four to five year period.

Another facet of these immigration policies has to do with the handling of the former Mariel entrants who are currently in the United States. These people are being allowed to apply for permanent residence status beginning now and with a retroactive effect of about 30 months.  As permanent residents they can then proceed to full citizenship status with the right to bring in parents, spouses, and minor unmarried children none of whom count against quota.

What does all this imply for making some estimate of the ultimate number of Cubans who will enter the United States and reside in Dade County over the next several years.  Figures from 200,000 to 400,000 have been set forth as possible.  The number of variables which can influence this number is extensive and information about these variables is scant or nonexistent.  Rather than speculate about the future in the absence of some firm information, the approach taken herein is to look at past experience with Cuban immigration and in that way perhaps draw some reasonable conclusion about the situation.

The Cuban Born Population

New Year's Day, 1985 marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of Castro's ascent to power in Cuba.  In the 25 years since New Year's Day 1959, Dade County has served as the gateway to America for approximately 0.75 million Cuban refugees.  The 1980 decennial census reported that there were 607,800 Cuban-born residents of the United States.   With the addition of 125,000 Mariel refugees, the total by 1984 is close to three-quarters of a million persons.  Approximately 425,000 of these (57 percent) are residents of Dade County.  The decennial census counted 325,000 Cuban-born residents of Dade County in 1980, and it is estimated that about 100,000 of the Mariel refugees settled or resettled in Dade in the early 1980's.

Table 1 presents decennial census data for the Cuban-born population in the United States and in the Miami metropolitan area (Dade County) for the years 1960, 1970, and 1980.  The 1980 data are considered to be more reliable than the data for the two previous censuses.  Special efforts were made in 1980 to ensure a full count of persons of Spanish origin, and the undercount problems experienced in the previous years were not evident in 1980.

The increasing concentration of Cuban-born persons in the Miami metropolitan areas is noteworthy, particularly in the decade of the 1970s.  In this period the number of Cuban-born persons in the United States increased by about 170,000, while the number in the Miami area grew by 140,000.  Thus, more than 80 percent of the net increase in Cuban-born residents of the United States was accounted for by the increase in the Miami are alone.  In the 1960s, the Miami area accounted for less than half (45 percent) of the increase in Cuban-born United States residents.

When the Mariel refugees are added to the 1980 census totals, the number of Cuban-born residents in the United States today grows to about 633,000, with 67 percent of these residing in Dade County (assuming that approximately 100,000 of the 125,000 Marielitos settled or resettled in the Miami area in the early 1980s).

Natives of Cuban Parentage

As the Cuban-born population continues to grow, so also does the number (Table 2) of native Americans of Cuban parentage or origin; however, this group is still relatively small.  In 1980, they amounted to less than 25 percent of the Cuban origin population in the United States (198,400 out of 806,200) and only about 20 percent of the Cuban-origin population in Dade County (82,300 out of 407,300).  The relatively small size of this group is due to the recency of the Cuban influx, the older age profile of the Cuban population in the United States, and the very low birth rates of this population.

Again, as with the Cuban-born population, the increasing concentration of natives of Cuban parentage in the Miami metropolitan area is noteworthy.  In the 1970s, for example, this group grew by 50,000 persons in Dade County, accounting for more than two-thirds of the national growth of this group (77,000).

The 50,000 increase in natives of Cuban parentage in the Miami area in the 1970s is composed of two groups: (1) those that were born in the Miami Area, and (2) those that were born elsewhere in the United States and migrated to the Miami area.  The 1980 census reported that approximately 32,800 of the natives of Cuban parentage in the Miami area were under ten years of age.  Assume that about 30,000 of these were born in the Miami area in the 1970s.  The remaining 20,000 of the 50,000 increase must then be those who were born in other parts of the United States and who migrated to the Miami area in the 1980s. These data lend support to the argument that many Cuban families initially settled in other parts of the United States, eventually returned to the Miami area.  The 1980 census reported that about 60,000 persons of Hispanic origin (primarily Cuban) in t he Miami area reported living in a different state in the United States in 1975.

Thus, the growth of the Cuban population in the Miami area stems from three sources:

(1) immigration from Cuba and other countries --the largest source;
(2) immigration from other parts of the United States; and
(3) natural increase (i.e. excess of births over deaths).

Cuban Birth Rates

Unlike most Hispanic population groups, the Cubans in the United States have exhibited birth and fertility rates that are quite low.  These rates are the lowest of all Hispanic population groups, and are even lower than the rates for non-Hispanic groups.  In 1981, for example, the birth rate for Cubans was 10.9 births per 1,000.  For non-Hispanic groups the average was 15.2 births per 1,000.

The low rates of the Cuban population were noted in a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics:

Birth and fertility rates for the Cuban population continue to be substantially below the rates for any other group.  This is partly because the Cuban population is relatively older than t he other Hispanic populations.  CPS (Current Population Survey) data for 1981 indicate that the median age of Cuban women in the United States was 35.7., considerably above that of women of other Hispanic origins.  Monthly Vital Statistics Report, "Births of Hispanics Parentage, 1981," (December 11, 1984), p.2

Birth and death rates for Cubans in the Miami area are not readily available.  The State of Florida does not code deaths by country of origin or by Hispanic origin, and it was only in 1979 that the State began to code births by Hispanic origin.  The estimated 30,000 births to Cubans in the Miami area suggested by the census data (see above) generally corresponds with the birth rates cited by the National Center for Health Statistics.  Health Department computer tapes for 1980, 1982, and 1984 were available and a review of these files shows the following:

In estimating the amount of growth due to natural increase, the births must be reduced by the number of deaths to the Cuban population.  Dade on Cuban deaths are not available.  While the Cuban population is on average older than the non-Cuban population, there are relatively few elderly Cubans (65 years and over).  Cubans age 65 and over accounted for about 23 percent of the elderly population in Dade County in 1980, whereas all Cubans accounted for 25 percent of the total population.  For this reason the crude death rate of the Cuban population is probably lower than the rate for the total population (9.6 deaths per 1,000 in 1983).  Assuming a crude death rate of 8.6 (the national average for 1983-84) and a population of more than 500,000, Cuban deaths might be expected to average 4,300 a year, or about 2 percent of the annual average number of resident deaths in Dade in the early 1980s.

Thus, the natural increase might be anticipated to average 1,000 to 2,000 a year -- 5,000 to 5,500 births less approximately 4,000 to 4,500 deaths.  Clearly, the future growth of the Cuban population will continue to come primarily from immigration, with natural increase playing a minor role.

Table 4 summarizes data on the Cuban-origin population of Dade County and the United States from 1960 to 1980.  It also compares the Cuban-origin population with the total Spanish-origin population in 1970 and 1980 (comparable 1960 data were not available).  Note that the Cuban-origin population, while dominant in the Miami area (accounting for 70 percent and more of the Spanish origin population) represents less than 6 percent of the total Spanish-origin population of the United States.

Note also that while the Cuban-origin population in the Miami area increased rapidly in the 1970s (87 percent), the total Spanish-origin population increased even more rapidly (94 percent).  This group virtually doubled in size from 81,000 in 1970 to 174,000 in 1980, a reflection of the continuing attractiveness of the United States to residents of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Annual Data on Cuban Immigration

The decennial census data are snapshots of the population at ten-year intervals.  These snapshots present evidence of the net change over time, but do not reveal the dramatic fluctuations in population change on an annual basis.  These annual changes are most important to an understanding of the impact of refugee flows in the Miami area.  The annual reports from the Bureau's Current Population Survey do not afford the geographical detail necessary to analyze change in the Miami area.

The major source of annual data on refugees and immigrants is the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  For various reasons the INS data series are of uneven quality.  Data on the Mariel refugees, for example, appear to be complete, but data pertaining to other immigrant groups (e.g. Haitians) and to Cubans in the early 1960s are incomplete.  A major reason for the deficiencies in the INS data series is the desire of many immigrants to avoid contact with this agency for fear of exclusion or deportation.

Professor Juan Clark's study of the Cuban refugee flow presents annual data from the records of the INS which document the two major periods of exodus from Cuba (Reference: Juan M. Clark, "The Exodus from Revolutionary Cuba, 1959-1974: A Sociological Analysis" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Florida, 1975).  "The Early Departures" occurred in the 1959 to 1962 period, basically from the ascent of Castro to the Cuban Missile crisis of October 1962.  The second major outflow o refugees occurred in the Freedom Flight period, from September 1965 to 1973.  Clark's tabulations are presented in Table 5.

Table 5

Number of Cubans entering the United States
According to U.S. Immigration Categories, 1959-1974
Entries to the United States

            Year   Total
            1959 - 62,800
            1960 - 60,781
            1961 - 50,857
            1962 - 73,632
            1963 - 15,535
            1964 - 15,045
            1965 - 25,366
            1966 - 55,422
            1967 - 49,756
            1968 - 50,182
            1969 - 49,415
            1970 - 49,220
            1971 - 43,323
            1972 - 11,489
            1973 - 11,308
            1974 - 16,406
          Total .........  640,237
The figures reported by Professor Clark do not correspond with INS data reported in the Statistical Abstract of the United States:   1984, Tables 125 and 126.  Clark's figures show total immigration in the 1960s amounting to abut 446,000, whereas the Statistical Abstract figures show 257,000 immigrants of Cuban birth and 209,000 immigrants with Cuba as their last permanent residence.  The immigrant classification systems used to report immigrants are complicated and change over time, but the differences in the numbers reported for the 1960s seem too great to be accounted for by classification differences.

The decennial census reports for 1960 and 1970 show an increase of 360,000 Cuban born persons in the United States.  Even when this figure is inflated to account for those who died or returned to Cuba in the 1960s, the total is still substantially below the 446,000 reported by Clark.

Similar inconsistencies occur in the data for the 1970s.  When Clark's figures for the 1970-1974 period are added to INS data for the 1975-1979 period (Statistical Abstract, 1984, Table 126) the total for the 1970s is just over 300,000 (301,346).  The INS summary data for the period 1971 to 1980 (Table 126) show a total of 277,000.  The increase derived from decennial reports is only 169,000.

Additional work is required to resolve these inconsistencies.  However, greater confidence must  be placed in the decennia census data.

The Cuban Impact on Dade's Future Population

In 1984, as part of the biennial Master Plan amendment process, the Dade County Planning Department proposed new population projections for Dade County.  These were designed to replace an earlier set released in August 1981 and which had been adopted as part of the Plan in 1983.  The new projections showed slower growth and reflected the impact of the 1981-82 recession which took a heavy toll on migration into Dade County.

A key assumption of the new projections was that there would be no new waves of refugees similar to those experienced in the 1960s and 1970s and in 1980.  However, the signing of an agreement between Cuba and the United States in December 1984, suggests that a new wave of Cuban immigrants similar in many respects to the Freedom Flights of the 1965 to 1973 period is likely.  The Freedom Flights were intended to reunite families separated in an earlier exodus from Cuban, and in the five peak years (1967-1971) ferried an average of about 45,000 persons a year to the United States.

The new agreement essentially normalizes immigration between Cuba and the United States.  Under the agreement the United States will resume the issuance of immigrant preference visas to Cubans living in Cuba up to a maximum of 20,000 a year.  In addition, 3,000 political prisoners and their immediate families will be allowed to enter the United States.  Further, an undetermined number of spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. citizens (not subject to quota) will be admitted.

Thus, beginning in 1985 Dade County can expect to serve as the gateway to the United States for a minimum of 25,000 Cubans (20,000 immigrants, 3,000 political prisoners and their families, and perhaps another 2,000 immediate family of United States citizens).  In 1986 and beyond this number may well increase as Mariel refugees acquire United States citizenship and apply to bring over spouses, unmarried minor children and parents.  By the end of the decade of the 1980s, the annual figure may be in the 30,000 to 40,000 range.

The U.S. Department of State has indicated that an attempt will be made to resettle the political prisoners and their families through voluntary agencies, but the bulk of the refugees are expected to settle in Dade County.  History suggests that approximately 80 percent of the new immigrants will settle or resettle in the Miami area.

Table 6 presents one projection of the immigrant inflow which begins with a 25,000 level in 1985 and gradually increases to 30,000 by 1990.  It is also quite possible that the inflow could increase more rapidly, say, to a level of 40,000 by 1990.  It is also possible that governmental restraints may limit the annual inflow to no more than 25,000 a year.

Table 7 takes the projection presented in Table 6, and assumes that this inflow is an addition to the population increase previously projected for Dade County.  The net effect is to virtually double the projected rate of growth of the population.  The previously projected annual increase of about 221,000 becomes 43,500.  This high rate of increase is quite possible, and would parallel the level of increase experienced with the Freedom Flights in the late 1960s and 1970s.

A plausible alternative would be to assume that the immigration influx would tend to depress migration to the Miami area from other parts of the United States and might well result in increased out migration from the Miami area.  Table 8 takes the projection presented in Table 6, and assumes that the immigration inflow is the sole source of population growth in Dade for the 1985 to 1990 period.  Since a natural increase (i.e., excess of births over deaths) of about 10,000 persons a year is projected for this period, this assumption implies a net out migration of population of about 10,000 a year.  A net out migration of population was experienced only once before in Dade County.  That was in 1982-83 period when Dade was in the depths of a severe economic recession.  In 1983, the Planning Department estimated, the projected level of population increase averages about 22,400 a year-- exclusively Cuban.

The two alternatives outlined above are not intended to represent the extreme limits of a range of population change projections that will shape the future of Dade County.  They do represent plausible alternatives at the high end and the low end, and are presented for the purpose of illustrating the net effect of the Cuban inflow under different growth assumptions.

Table 9 takes the alternative projections presented in Tables 7 and 8, and shows the net effect of the different assumptions in terms of the percentage of the population that is of Cuban origin in 1990.  The Cuban-origin population is the same in both Series, but the projected total population changes.  Under the Series I assumption (i.e., that the Cuban influx is a net addition to the projected growth), the Cuban-origin population amounts to about 32 percent of the projected 1990 population of 2,011,000. This 1990 population is about 132,000 higher than is now projected.  Under the Series II assumption (i.e., that the immigrant influx is the sole source of projected population growth), the Cuban-origin population amounts to about 34 percent of the projected 1990 population of 1,882,000.  This 1990 population is 3,000 higher than is now projected, and reaches this level despite the implied out migration of approximately 10,000 a year.

While the Cuban-origin population is the dominant Spanish-origin population group in Dade County, other Spanish-origin population groups constitute a substantial proportion of the total population.  Moreover, as pointed out in Table 4 above, this group grew faster than the Cuban-origin population in the Miami area in the 1970s.  If this group were to continue growing at a rate of about 9,000 a year (the average for the 1970s) they would constitute more than 250,000 persons by 1990, and would bring the total Spanish-origin population of Dade to about 900,000.  This implies that the Spanish origin population would enter then constitute between 45 percent (Series I) and 48 percent (Series II) of the total population.

END doc0072

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