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Asians Likely Remained Nation’s Fastest-Growing Racial Group During Last Decade

MONDAY, MAR 29, 2021

A spate of hate crimes that include a recent Atlanta killing spree whose victims included six Asian women has drawn attention to discrimination against people of Asian descent. Explanations for the outbreak of hostility range from tension over economic competition with China to racist remarks made by a former U.S. president.

A review of U.S. government policies, however, indicates that hostility to Asian-Americans is hardly a new phenomenon. The U.S. Census Bureau didn’t even begin to count Asians in the population until 1860, and only then registered Chinese living in California. An 1882 law banned Chinese immigration to the United States for a decade. Japanese- and Aleutian-Americans were interned during World War II with no proof that they were helping the enemy. And Asians were grouped with Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian racial groups as late as the 1990 Census.

Despite the recent animus, Asians continue to be the nation’s fastest-growing racial group. A full accounting of Asian growth in the U.S. isn’t likely until detailed Summary File 1 data from the 2020 Census is released, probably in early to mid-2022. A Social Explorer analysis of American Community Survey data, however, shows that the Asian population has grown roughly 26 percent since 2010 – faster than the Hispanic population (22.5 percent); more than three times faster than the Black population (7.7 percent); and almost 80 times faster than the White population (0.3 percent).

The Asian-American population has been boosted by significant immigration. According to the Census Bureau, 13.6 percent of the nation’s population was born abroad. Only 4 percent of Whites, 9.9 percent of Blacks, and 33.5 percent of Hispanics were born in other countries. The percentage of Asians born in other countries – two of every three – dwarfed other foreign-born populations.


Change in Asian population, 2010-29. Click here to explore further.

The American Community Survey figures also show the Asian experience differs from other racial groups in significant ways. The typical Asian is 37 years old – younger than the median age for Whites (43.5) but older than Blacks (34) and Hispanics (29).

Asian-Americans also are far more likely to be part of a traditional married-couple family than any other racial group in the nation. More than 71 percent of Asian-Americans are married couples,  more than Whites (64.5 percent); Hispanics (57.5 percent); or Blacks (37.3 percent).

And while minority groups in the U.S. are more likely to live in multigenerational households than White Americans, elders are less likely to be responsible for their grandchildren. Slightly less than 14 percent of Asian-American grandparents are taking care of grandchildren, compared to 26 percent of Hispanics, 39.5 percent of Whites, and 41 percent of Blacks.

The stereotype of the Asian emphasis on education may be a stereotype, but like most stereotypes, it’s rooted in some truth. The 2015-19 American Community Survey found 46.6 percent of the nation’s Asian population has earned a bachelor’s degree or better – far surpassing Whites (35.9 percent), Blacks (21.6 percent); and Hispanics (16.5 percent).

The emphasis on education and family-oriented households has translated into greater earnings. The typical White household reported $68,785 in 2019 income. The median income for Hispanic households was $51,811, and the typical Black household made $41,935. Asian-American households, meanwhile, had a median of $88,204.

Author: Frank Bass

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