Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The New Wave of Asian Americans

Did you know that Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. A report released on June 19, 2012 of a nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center had said that: "Sixty-one percent of 25-to-64-year-old Asian immigrants come with at least a bachelor's degree – more than double non-Asian immigrants.”

Compared with the educational attainment of the population in their country of origin, recent Asian immigrants also stand out as a select group. For example, about 27% of adults aged 25 to 64 in South Korea and 25% in Japan have a bachelor’s degree or more (Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators. Based on 2009 data). In contrast, nearly 70% of comparably aged recent immigrants from these two countries have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The modern immigration wave from Asia is nearly a half century old and has pushed the total population of Asian Americans – foreign born and U.S born, adults and children – to a record 18.2 million in 2011, or 5.8% of the total US population, up from less than 1% in 1965. (Note: This is the first official estimate of the size of the Asian-American population produced by the Census Bureau since the 2010 Census; it was released in May 2012). By comparison, non-Hispanic whites are 197.5 million and 63.3%, Hispanics 52.0 million and 16.7% and non-Hispanic blacks 38.3 million and 12.3%.

Asian Americans trace their roots to any of dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Each country of origin subgroup has its own unique history, culture, language, religious beliefs, economic and demographic traits, social and political values, and pathways into America.

But despite often sizable subgroup differences, Asian Americans are distinctive as a whole, especially when compared with all U.S. adults, whom they exceed not just in the share with a college degree (49% vs. 28%), but also in median annual household income ($66,000 versus $49,800) and median household wealth ($83,500 vs. $68,529). Note that the college data are for adults aged 25 and older. Household income is based on householders aged 18 and older and comes from Pew Research Center analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey. Household wealth is based on householders aged 15 and older and comes from Pew Research Center analysis of Wave 7 of the 2008 Survey of Income and Program Participation panel, conducted from September-December 2010.

America beckons!

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