How to Calculate Heritage Percents

by Morgan O'Connor

You may already feel a deep connection to your identity as an Irish-American, an African-American, an Asian-American or a Native American. On the other hand, you may be looking for a cultural identity or want to learn more about your personal heritage and family tree. Either way, you should know how to calculate the percentages of your personal heritage when it's split among multiple countries or cultures.

Find out which generation of your ancestors came to the United States and determine which country each ancestor emigrated from. For example, let's say both of your parents were born in the United States. You have a maternal grandmother who was born in France, a maternal great-grandfather born in England and a maternal great-grandmother born in Sweden. You also have a paternal grandmother born in South Africa, a paternal great-grandmother born in India and a paternal great-grandfather born in China.

Multiply the number of foreign-born parents you have by 50 to find the percentage of your heritage from the country each of your parents was born in. In the example, neither parent was foreign-born, so this step is unnecessary.

Multiply the number of foreign-born grandparents you have from each country by 25 to find the percentage of your heritage from those countries. In the example, you have a grandmother from France and a grandmother from South Africa. Multiplying each of these by 25 finds that you're 25 percent French and 25 percent South African.

Multiply the number of foreign-born great-grandparents you have from each country by 12.5 to find the percentage of your heritage from those countries. In the example, you have a great-grandfather from England and one from China and a great-grandmother from India and one from Sweden. Multiplying each of these by 12.5 finds that you're 12.5 percent English, 12.5 percent Chinese, 12.5 percent Indian and 12.5 percent Swedish.

Items you will need

  • Calculator

Tip

  • If you need to go further back than your great-grandparents, multiply your heritage percents as follows: 6.25 percent for great-great-grandparents, 3.125 percent for great-great-great-grandparents and 1.5625 percent for great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Resources

About the Author

Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.

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