“Americans don’t go abroad”

Lecturer and researcher on the Chinese economy Antonio Graceffo comments on the popular belief that Americans are provincial yokels who rarely venture beyond their own borders:

“8 million Americans living abroad may tip a close election”

Where did this widely held myth come from that Americans don’t go abroad or know nothing of the outside world? The number of countries where Americans are the largest group of expats is staggering. US military bases are in about 40 countries, and they aren’t manned by robots or foreigners. About two-thirds of the millions of US military personnel will be deployed overseas during their enlistment. The US also has a diplomatic and governmental presence in the largest number of countries, and has the largest such presence in almost every country. And of course, US multinationals have operations in literally every country on the planet, with Americans working in them. The US is also the largest immigrant destination in the world, and has the highest percentage of immigrants, all of whom have been abroad. The percentage of US families who speak another language at home is probably one of the highest in the world. Also, may I add that bilingualism is higher in US than Canada, and that 38 million Americans speak Spanish. That 8 million Americans figure quoted above only represents Americans who register as living abroad. And Americans are extremely unlikely to register, so the real number could be several times that figure.

I would add that Americans comprise by far the largest group of non-Asian expats in China, at 12%, according to China’s 2010 national census, which is the most recent official data I can find.

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