Caribbean Immigration To The US 1965-1989

Alvar W. Carlson



The Caribbean islands have become increasingly important sources of foreign immigrants to the United States. Generally, Cuba is thought of as the region’s primary source, but other islands have also become significant sources, especially after the implementation o the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendment that eliminated nationality origins quotas and established an open-door, competitive policy for immigrants Subsequently, Caribbean immigration to the United State has become a growing factor in contributing to the population growth, cultural diversity, and racial composition of specific American metropolitan areas Despite the islands’ proximity to the US, more immigrant have originated in the Caribbean islands since 1965 than in the region’s previous history. The 1960s alone witnessed three times as many Caribbean immigrants than in the previous three decades. And, the 1980s recorded nearly twice as many Caribbean immigrants, and worldwide immigrants, as in 1960’s (Table 1). Consequently, the Caribbean is today the source of about one-third of America’s immigrants from the Western Hemisphere and nearly 15 per cent of its worldwide immigrants.


Interestingly enough, the Caribbean was the source about 200,000 more immigrants to the United States than all of Europe during the 1980s. As in all cases of international migration, both internal and external factors or forces play determining roles in emigration and immigration. A country’s internal conditions create the desires or needs to emigrate. I contrast to these push conditions, each receiving country has not only perceived opportunities for the improvement an individual’s economic, political, and social situation, bi also national policies that allow accessibility or entry and



Table I

Immigration to the United States, 1930-89

(In Thousands)



































% of Worldwide









% of Western












Caribbean immigration from islands/countries of










British Bkgd. 1








Dutch Bkgd. 2








French Bkgd  3








Spanish Bkgd  4










1 Includes (with date of independence) Anguilla, Antigua-Barbuda (1981), The Bahamas (1973), Barbados (1966), Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica (1978), Grenada (1974), Jamaica (1962), Montserrat, St.

Christopher (Kitts)-Nevis (1983), St Lucia (1979), St. Vincent & Grenadines (1979), Trinidad and Tobago (1962), and Turks and Caicos Islands.

2  Includes the Netherland Antilles (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten).

3Includes (with date of independence) Guadeloupe, Haiti (1804), Martinique, and St. Martin.

4Includes (with date of independence) Cuba (1898) and the Dominican Republic (1844).


-- denotes .<500. All other tabulations have been rounded to the nearest thousand.


Source: US. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service

Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service,Washington, D.C.; Government Printing Office, 1930-1989).



regulate admissions. These internal and external factors often change in time, resulting in varying types and amounts of emigration and immigration.

It needs to be pointed out at the outset that some of the Caribbean islands, especially those with English-speaking populations have histories of both temporary and permanent out-migration, but not of the numerical extent experienced in the l980s. Growing demands for labourers, especially on sugar plantations, led to significant inter-island migrations in the latter half of the 1 980s that lasted into the early 1 900s when many labourers turned instead to Central America to find agricultural employment or construction work in the building of the Panama Canal. By the 1940s, however, Caribbean islanders turned their sights increasingly toward urban destinations found largely in Britain and to a lesser extent in the US. Many continued to be recruited, however, as contract agricultural labourers, especially Jamaicans, during World War II and there is still today inter-island labour migrations, including that associated with limited manufacturing and industry.



After the war, the Caribbean islander’s migrations to the US were more and more for the purposes of employment, reflecting the islands’ historical and continuous lack of opportunities outside of labour-intensive agriculture associated with plantation economies. Even then and in recent years, increasing mechanisation of agriculture has

widespread unemployment and underemployment in this region where only a quarter of the land is cultivated. Meanwhile, limited capital investments, including those in connection with tourism, have not created the widespread industries and manufacturers needed to absorb the abundance of both surplus rural and urban labour, which for the most part is characteristically unskilled. Thus, America has become another, but larger, escape valve for those who pursue external work.


High population growth rates have been another internal commonality found in the Caribbean that has encouraged out-migration. Since 1970, crude birth rates (CBRs) on average have been considerably higher than those of the world’s industrialised countries, such as the United State (Table 2). Although ranking with the world averages, the islands’ crude death rates (CDRs), except for Haiti, have been concurrently among the lowest in the world. Despite national family-planning programmes having been




Population Characteristics, 1970-90

                                                          World                                                       1970                        1980                        1990

                                                          Population (millions)                                3.632                       4.4 14                      5.32 1
                                                          CBR/CDR                                                 34/14                       28/11                       27/10
                                                          AnnualGrowthRate(%)                              2.0                           1.7                           1.8
                                                          Pop.<l5years(0/o)                                     37                            35                            33
                                                          Years to Double                                        35                            41                            39



                                                          Population (million)                                 26                            30                            34
                                                          CBR/CDR                                                 35/11   
-                                                       28/8                         25/8
                                                          Annual Growth Rate                                 2.2                           1.9                           1.7

                                                          Pop.<l5years(%l                                       40                            40                            33

                                                          Years to Double                                        32                            36                            40


United States

                                                          Population (millions)                                205                          223                          251

                                                          CBR/CDR                                                      18/10                         16/9                              16/9

                                                          Annual Growth Rate (%)                         1.0                           0.7                           0.8

                                                          Pop.<l5years(%)                                       30                            22                            22

                                                          Years to Double’                                       70                            99                            92


1At current rate


Source: “World Population Data Sheet” (Washington D.C.: Population Reference Bureau, 1970, 1980, 1990).


implemented in several countries, including Barbados, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic, and an overall declining birth rate since 1970, the Caribbean islands, on the whole with the notable exception of Cuba, had relatively high fertility rates and large proportions of young people under the age of 15, ranging from 44 per cent in Haiti to 32 per cent in Trinidad and Tobago, during the mid- 1980s.

Whereas the fertility rate for the US in 1989 was 1.8. it was 3.1 for Jamaica, 3.9 for the Dominican Republic, and 4.9 for Haiti. At the same time, between one-third and 40 per cent of the population was under the age of fifteen. This component of the population is a major factor in the projections of doubling times for populations of individual countries, which have increased in the required number of years, but are still relatively high (average of 40 years) for instance in comparison to those of the US (92 years) and European countries (266 years).


Nearly all of the Caribbean islands have population densities that rank among the highest in the world, creating population pressures— a phenomenon that is not isolated to these islands, but is found on many of the world’s small islands. In 1990, of the world’s 205 countries, dependencies, and self-governing territories, two-thirds had population densities above the world average of 92 (Table 3).     Twenty-three of the Caribbean’s twenty-five countries and colonies fell into this category. Only the Turks and Caicos Islands and The Bahamas had lower densities. In fact, Caribbean population densities were on average four times the world average. These demographic characteristics can undoubtedly complicate economic development and progress not only on the Caribbean but anywhere.




Compound it by the lack of economic development, the high population growth rates and correspondingly high dependency ratios have resulted in underdevelopment and economic poverty. The majority of the Caribbean islanders (55 per cent in 1990) live today in urban areas, but some of the islands continue to have large rural populations and limited arable lands for non-plantation agriculture. Urban populations range from highs of 70-80 per cent in The Bahamas. Cuba and Martinique, to lows of 20-30 per cent in Haiti, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Those islands with urban majority have had for the most parts the higher per capita GNP5, which averaged US$4,730 in 1990 for the region. Exceptions are Barbados, where only one third of its 1990 population were urban, with a per capita GNP of nearly US$6,500 and the Dominican Republic was slightly more than half of its population are urban residents and the per capita GNP is only US$820. The highest per capita GNP is found today in the Bahamas (    us$11 500) and the lowest is found in Haiti     (US $370).

These lingering internal conditions convinced several Caribbean governments as early as the mid-1900’s to promote or sanction emigration, especially labourers


Table 3


Caribbean Population Densities, 1990

                                                                                                     Area in
                                                                     Population               Sq. Miles 1               Population

                                                                     tniillions)                 (thousandsl               Per Sq. Mile

                    World                                      5.321                       57.850                              92
                    Unites States                       251                                3.679                              68
Caribbean Islands:                  34                              90.6                                375
                    British background                   5.0                           13.3                                376
                    Dutch background                    0.3                             0.4                                750
                    French background                  7.3                          -11.8                                619
                    Spanish background               17.9                           61.5                                281
US. possessions                        3.5                             3.6                                972


1lncludes inland waters

Source:      Goode’s World Atlas (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1991) and ‘World


Population Data Sheet” (Washington D.C,: Population Reference Bureau, 1990).


resulting in the continued sense of approval for residents to emigrate and thereby making emigration a survival strategy. Many of the emigrants headed for their mother countries, especially England. Others chose the United States, not only because of its perceived opportunities but also its proximity, especially from the 1960s onward as more islands became independent countries, which allowed perspective migrants to be more easily processed as chargeable immigrants against their own country rather than, as before, against their mother country. Also, the United States became the expedient destination for many islanders who sought refuge or asylum from political turmoil, oppression and total totalitarian governments most notably in~ Cuba and later in Haiti. Dominicans did not start to emigrate in large numbers until after 1961 when dictator Rafael Trujillo, who had prohibited emigration for many years, was assassinated.


Besides the internal forces that provided incentives for Caribbean islanders to emigrate, external circumstances         -‘and developments facilitated their immigration to the United States. Obviously, the availability of economic opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labourers outside of agriculture, has been an attraction. Some islanders such as the Jamaicans had been recruited as contract agricultural labourers as early as the 1940s. Word of these and other opportunities spread on both an intra­island and inter-island basis and was reinforced by the growing and penetrating media which provided images of a better life in America. Emigrants realised, too, that many Americans used familiar languages stemming from European colonisation, especially English and Spanish. Coupled with relatively cheap mobility because of the distance factor made for easier migrations.


US immigration policies, however, have been the most important factor in the recent admission of larger numbers of immigrants, not only from the Caribbean islands but also from around the world. These policies allow America to take the most immigrants of any country. Immigrant numbers have increased steadily since World War II, but they rose ‘dramatically after the 1960s, with annual averages of 433,600 and 633,200 in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Regarding the Caribbean, only Cuba was ranked in the 11 countries that contributed 50,000 or more immigrants in the 1950s (Table 4). During the 1960s, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica were in the group of 14 sources responsible for more than 50,000 immigrants.



These three countries accounted for 12.1 per cent of the worldwide immigration to America. They were joined by Haiti and Trinidad! Tobago in the eighteen sources of 50,000 plus immigrants of the 1970s when the five countries supplied 15.8 per cent of all immigrants. The 26 leading sources of the 1980s included Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, which together accounted for 11.5 per cent of the total number. It is apparent that an increasing number of the world’s countries, especially those of the Third World, have become leading sources of immigrants.

With the enactment of the National Origins Act of 1924, passed largely to curtail immigration from eastern and southern Europe, numerical origins quotas favouring immigration from western and northern Europe were established in order to manipulate and to control the composition of the American population. While origins quotas were determined for countries of the Eastern Hemisphere, Western Hemispheric countries were exempted except for the European colonies in the Caribbean. Little immigration occurred in the Depression of the 1930s and this was true of the war years of the 1940s. After World War II, the United States began to accept large numbers of war-related refugees and displaced persons under a policy that extended into the 1950s. On the other hand, the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) imposed restrictions on immigration from the British West Indies, which led emigrants from Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago to turn to Great Britain.



The post-war immigrants were soon joined, however, by Cubans fleeing civil turmoil. Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Cuban government in 1959 began to produce thousands of political refugees who were accommodated in America by special legislation. Consequently, Cuba rose from being the seventh largest source of immigrants in the 1950s to being the third leading source of the 1960s, following only Mexico and Canada.

Dramatic changes in the US immigration policies, resulting from the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments, were fully implemented in 1968. Most notably, nationality or origins quotas that favoured Europeans were abolished not only because European countries were not filling their allocations but also at a time when America witnessed a rising conscience concerning civil rights and discrimination.

With the exceptions of a few countries because of political reasons, the door to the United States has been opened to a fuller extent and immigration was put on a firstcome, first­served basis to all peoples of the world. The only limitations were the annual numerical ceilings of 170,000 immigrants for the Eastern Hemisphere, with a per country limit of 20,000, and 120,000 immigrants for the Western Hemisphere with no per country limit. Not until 1977 were the Western Hemispheric countries limited to annual quotas of 20,000 chargeable immigrants, which prevented domination by a few countries, such as Mexico. Shortly thereafter, the Hemispheric limits were combined in 1978 into one world-wide ceiling of 290,000. This number was reduced to 280,000 in 1980 and again in 1981 to 270,000, excluding refugees and relatives of American citizens who can enter as exempted immigrants because of preferential provisions that promote the reunification of families, especially spouses, children, and parents. This liberal policy has led to the emigration of family members within networks of chain migrations.

Countries that have become the sources of most chargeable immigrants can quickly become the sources, too, of exempted immigrants. Whereas 39 per cent of the Caribbean immigrants of the 1980s were exempted from numerical limitations, nearly 57 per cent of America’s world-wide immigrants were exempted. As more Caribbean immigrants settle in America it can be expected in the future that there will be a corresponding increase in the number of exempted immigrants from the region as families reunite. Cuba, Dominican Republic. Haiti, and Jamaica each contributed numbers of immigrants in excess of the annual 20,000 quota by the late 1980s. Yet, the Caribbean is one of the largest sources of illegal aliens with the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica ranking behind Mexico. This is despite the fact that Canada, too, had significantly relaxed in 411962 its policies which now accommodate many Caribbean immigrants including non­whites such as the African-Caribbeans.

Coincidentally, the United Kingdom has passed restrictive legislation in both 1962 (Commonwealth Immigrants Act) and 1983 that in essence cut off immigration from the Commonwealth Caribbean. Furthermore, Dominicans were allowed to emigrate due to a change in policy after Trujillo’s death, and several, colonies (Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago)






Leading Sources Of Caribbean immigrants, 1970-89

               1970-79                                1980-89                         Total                    Percent


1. Cuba                                                 278.068                              163,666                   441.734          27.6
2. Dominican Republic                         14 1.578                             226.853                   368.431          23.1
Jamaica                                              138.058                              207.762                   345.820          21.6
Haiti                                                  59.097                                126.379                   185.476          11.6
Trinidad and Tobago                          63.972                                37.947                     101.9 17           6.4
Barbados                                            20.055                                18.404                     38,459              2.4
Antigua-Barbuda                                5.490                                  12.555                     18.045              1.2
Grenada                                            6.896                                  10.483                     17.379              1.1
St. Kltts-Nevis                                   5.903                                  10.587                     16.490              1.0
St. Vincent &                                  4,269                                  7,343                       11.612              0.7
GrenadInes                                                                                                                        1.545.365       96.7


Source: US. Department of Justice, Naturalization and Immigration Service, Statistical Yearbook of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1970-1987).


declared their Independence and became new countries in the 1960s. Thereafter, seven more colonies (Antigua-Barbuda. The Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitt’s Nevis , St Lucia, St Vincent and The Grenadines) became countries. All of these new countries had become eligible to be outright sources of immigrants under the established ceiling and quotas.

More than half of America’s Caribbean immigrants since 1930 have come from islands originally colonised by Spain, namely Cuba and the Dominican Republic (Table 1&5). One third came from the British colonised islands. Only about one of ten immigrants came from the French­ colonised islands, nearly all from Haiti which became independent in 1804. Only small numbers originated in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St Martin, which are still French departments. An even smaller number of immigrants have originated in the Dutch islands (especially Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) of which none has become independent.

Although the colonial possessions have been given small numerical quotas of one hundred immigrants each, the immigrants from the British, Dutch, and French dependencies gained their immigrant status for the most part as chargeables against their mother country’s quota. Most out-migrants from these Dutch and French possessions go to their European mother countries. In-migrants to the United States from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are not counted as immigrants due to an exemption given to residents of US possessions. Despite the many thousands of Puerto Ricans having migrated to this country, they and the US Virgin Islanders are not figures in this analysis of Caribbean immigration.

Cuba, even before the inauguration of the open-door policy in the late 1960s, maintained its status as the leading source of Caribbean immigrants until the 1980s when it was surpassed by both the Dominican Republic and Jamaica (Table 5). Meanwhile, immigration from Haiti more than doubled in the 1980s and that from the remaining six leading sources, all English-speaking islands (Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago), declined slightly when totalled together. However if the figure for Jamaica were added to the total for these six countries, the British colonised islands contributed a share of Caribbean immigrants.

More than one-third of the Caribbean immigrants during the influx of the 1970s and 1980s were under 20 years of age (Fig. 1). When this age group is added to the group of 20-19 year olds, nearly 56 per cent of all the immigrants were under 30 years of age. There ais considerable variation, however, among the immigrant sources. Only 37 per cent,of the Cubans were under 30 years of age. In contrast, 54 per cent of the Haitians, 65 per cent of the Jamaicans, and 69 per cent of those from Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic were in this young age group. The median age ranged from 23 years for the Dominicans to 38 years for the Cubans. Of these five leading Caribbean immigrant groups, for which fairly complete data are available, only Haiti was the source of more males (52 per cent) than females (48 per cent). Reverse ratios existed for the immigrants from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.


These young immigrants, like nearly all cases in immigration history, represent a loss in the emigrating source’s labour supply and a potential gain for the United States. They also represent a significant component in America’s future population growth, mainly because of their potentially high fertility rates and because of the country’s low birth rate and growing proportion of elderly people.

Caribbean immigration consists largely of Hispanics (e.g. Cubans and Dominicans) and African Caribbeans (e.g. Haitians and Jamaicans) who add to the numerical growth and cultural diversity of both ethnic populations in America. Although more than 100,000 Caribbean blacks, mostly from British islands, emigrated to America before the passage of the 1924 National Origins Act, the recent Caribbean immigration has brought about America’s largest wave of black immigrants from anywhere. An estimated 600.000 Caribbean islanders, mostly from Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tol5ago, became African-Americans (blacks) during the period of 1970-89. In addition, America’s Hispanic population increased significantly as a result of black immigrants from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the two Spanish-origin countries that were the sotr~ré~7s of half of all Caribbean immigrants during the same period (Table 1&5). Not surprisingly, approximately one of thirty American blacks is of Hispanic origin today. Previously, America’s African-Americans were almost totally the result of slavery, which involved involuntary migration not immigration based upon one’s volition.

The largest number (56 per cent) of Caribbean immigrants entered the United States as housepersons, children and those without occupations (Fig.2). Besides one of every three Caribbean immigrants being under 20 years of age and largely children, these immigrants in large part represented family members who are involved in the re-unification of families. Of the five major sources, the percentages for this category ranged from 48 per cent for Haiti to 64 per cent for the Dominican Republic. Approximately one quarter of the immigrants were placed in the next two ranked occupational categories: operators. fabricators and labourers (12 per cent) and service and private household workers (11 per cent); largely occupations of a semi or unskilled nature that require low educational achievement. Operators, fabricators and labourers were found largely among the Cubans (19 per cent); Haitians (15 per cent) and Dominicans (11 per cent). Each of the major immigrant groups had sizable percentages of service and private household workers, ranging from 17 percent of the Haitians to seven per cent of the Cubans.



The remaining 20 per cent of the immigrants had occupations that placed them in a variety of categories from farm workers to professionals. Many use their discretionary income to send remittances back to relatives in their homelands, enabling some of them to also emigrate. In addition, remittances are often used to purchase property, especially for retirement.

Of the 1.6 million Caribbean immigrants who were admitted during the 1970s and 1980s, representing nearly three-fourths of all Caribbean immigrants since 1930, more than 60 per cent settled in the three states of New York, Florida and New Jersey (Fig 3). More than half of the immigrants from each of the five major sources chose one state. For example, New York was the first choice for most immigrants from the Dominican Republic (68 per cent), Trinidad and Tobago (59 per cent), Jamaica (55 per cent) and Haiti (52 per cent) while most Cubans chose Florida (57 per cent). All of these immigrant groups had the same states as their leading destinations, namely Florida, New Jersey and New York. (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were second choices for 14 per cent of the immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago.) In sum, more than three-fourths of the immigrants of each of the five major immigrant groups chose only three destinations, ranging from 91 per cent of the Dominicans to 75 per cent of the Jamaicans. The proximities of the immigrants to eastern seaboard states with large metropolitan areas that already had relatives and friends who could help them with their settling process were undoubtedly important considerations. Urban destinations are not formidable because most Caribbean immigrants originate in urban areas where they are often employed at low wages.


Available immigration data on the declared intended residences of four of the leading Caribbean immigrant groups (Cubans, Dominicans, Haitians and Jamaicans) show that in the late 1980s fewer than three percent of the total number settled in non-MSAs (places of under 50,000 populations). These four immigrant groups were, in fact, highly selective in choosing their new locations. Approximately three-fourths of the Cubans chose the Miami-Hialeah metropolitan area. Nearly two-thirds of the Dominicans and half of the Jamaicans chose the New York city metropolitan area. Sherri Grasmuck and Patricia Pessar estimated in 1990 the number of Dominicans had grown so large that they were to quickly outnumber the Italians as New York city’s largest foreign-born resident population. Meanwhile, about one-third of the Haitians settled also in New York city and another one-third in Miami-Hialeah. Smaller groups went to New Jersey’s metropolitan areas.


Immigrants’ declarations of intended residence upon entry may be questioned as reliable sources of data because immigrants are not bound to settle at their indicated destinations. However, this is not the case. For instance, 1990 census data reveal four states (California, Florida, New Jersey and New York) have over 50,000 Cuban Americans or when these populations are combined 87 per cent of America’s total Cuban population (1.1 million). Florida alone has 65 per cent of this population. These are the same four states that 87 per cent of the Cuban immigrants selected as destinations during the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, Cubans who chose to reside in America’s urban areas continue to live in them. Census data, too, show that 98 per cent of the Cuban-Americans live in metropolitan areas with approximately half of them being residents of central cities, explaining for example the development of Miami’s Little Havana. Each immigrant group’s urban destinations have had large ethnic enclaves consisting of residents from the Caribbean who participated in “network recruitments” or formulated chain migrations. Virginia Dominguez maintains many Caribbean immigrants, especially, Dominicans, Haitians and Jamaicans prefer “concentration over dispersal” and therefore “self-segregation”. Aside from only New York, New Jersey and Florida each receiving more than 50,000 Caribbean immigrants and a combined 78 per cent of the total, other Caribbean immigrants numbering between 1,000 and 50,000 chose to settle in only fourteen states and Washington D.C (Fig. 3). Coincidentally, Puerto Rico received more Caribbean immigrants than any of the 15 destinations. Fewer than 1,000 immigrants chose to settle in each of the remaining 33 states.

After centuries, and despite its close proximity, the Caribbean islands have only recently emerged as a major source of immigrants to the United States. Although the economic conditions associated with underemployment, unemployment and population growth have long been existent in the region and plausible causes for heavy emigration, it took geo-political and governmental policy changes for the past three decades to widen the opening for large-scale out-migration. Their numbers help collective minority populations to become majority populations. Both Miami-Hialeah arid New York city, which are the dominant urban destinations, have large Hispanic and African-American populations that when combined with other minority populations make for the minorities constituting a majority population.

Immigration, therefore, continues to play a major role, as it did in America’s earlier history, in determining the character of American cities the major difference today is in the sources of the immigrants who provide a more varied colouring or toning process to American urbanisation, resembling the ‘process found-for decades in Caribbean urbanisation. Barry Levine in fact, has asserted “. . . creole America is now ‘reconquering’ the mainlands.”

Robert Pastor has claimed that after 1965 “the United States opened itself to becoming a Third World nation, and in particular a Caribbean Basin nation.” With projections of little capital investment in the Caribbean that could produce widespread gains in employment, nothing appears on the horizon to curtail emigration to the United States -Even then, Erol Ricketts found Caribbean countries with considerable American investment in the 1970s to have been greater sources of immigrants because it dislocated labour. This is despite the intent of the Caribbean Basin Initiative (result of 1983 Caribbean Basin Recovery Act) which was implemented to help reduce emigration. Consequently, out-migration, long sanctioned or overlooked by many Caribbean governments, has undoubtedly been a factor along with national family planning programmes in some countries in reducing population growth rates in the Caribbean in order to have fewer potentially unemployed people. It is also beneficial to aging America where projections indicate growing needs for a younger and more skilled labour force.

Reportedly, between five and ten per cent of each Caribbean country’s population emigrated between 1950 and 1980, the highest rate of out-migration of any region in the world. Dennis Conway has estimated “...that between 20 to 30 per cent of the region’s population in 1980...” lived in Europe, Canada and the United States. And, America’s NBC News reported in 1993 that one-sixth of Jamaica’s population resides now in America. Moreover, Conway claims that emigration is now the most important factor in changing the Caribbean’s population. Its impact on reducing both population growth rates and fertility rates needs to be studied for each of the countries to determine a Caribbean-wide perspective. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that America has become the Caribbean’s safety valve. This emigration merely reflects another chapter in the ongoing redistribution of the world’s population