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How Many Americans Have a Passport?

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One of the things I’ve often heard while living in the European Union is the meme that only 10% of Americans own a passport.  This assertion is usually followed by the quazi-urban legend that George W. Bush never had a passport before becoming president.  This I’ve never been able to prove or disprove any satisfaction Which, it turns out, is not true.

Such a low number wouldn’t have surprised me. After all, the United States is nearly thrice the size of the EU and borders only two foreign countries, while the EU is made of 27 countries and -- depending on how you want to count them -- borders another 19.

I wondered aloud about this in my previous post, ‘Work in Progress: The United States Explained’ and a commenter, Alison, was nice enough to bring this data set about passports from the ever-awesome data.gov to my attention.

The data was only for the past four years, so I had to do some estimates based on issue rates and the 2000 census numbers, but the result is the above infographic and the table below:

State Population with Passport
NEW JERSEY 68.36%
ALASKA 65.01%
MASSACHUSETTS 63.42%
NEW YORK 62.47%
CALIFORNIA 60.19%
NEW HAMPSHIRE 59.39%
CONNECTICUT 58.50%
WASHINGTON 57.28%
VERMONT 56.32%
MARYLAND 56.21%
MINNESOTA 56.14%
COLORADO 54.88%
RHODE ISLAND 54.40%
FLORIDA 52.83%
ILLINOIS 52.06%
MAINE 51.62%
ARIZONA 51.24%
HAWAII 49.94%
UTAH 49.36%
VIRGINIA 49.16%
TEXAS 48.80%
NORTH DAKOTA 48.30%
NEVADA 46.84%
MONTANA 46.63%
PENNSYLVANIA 45.11%
DELAWARE 44.93%
WISCONSIN 43.70%
OREGON 43.39%
MICHIGAN 42.89%
WYOMING 41.40%
IDAHO 41.24%
IOWA 39.34%
NEBRASKA 38.97%
GEORGIA 38.73%
KANSAS 38.18%
SOUTH DAKOTA 37.69%
NEW MEXICO 37.11%
OHIO 35.71%
MISSOURI 35.32%
NORTH CAROLINA 34.18%
OKLAHOMA 33.23%
INDIANA 32.73%
SOUTH CAROLINA 32.09%
LOUISIANA 29.47%
TENNESSEE 28.78%
ARKANSAS 25.14%
ALABAMA 25.03%
KENTUCKY 24.94%
WEST VIRGINIA 20.43%
MISSISSIPPI 19.86%

(If you’re the kind of person who really cares about the details, you can see all the calculations on my United States data spreadsheet – please let me know if there are any errors)