Asian immigrants in US tend to live in ethnic suburban enclaves and earn more, study finds

Immigrants in US are wealthier than average Americans and more likely to live in clusters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 5:33am

Asian American immigrants tend to live in highly segregated enclaves and their income level is often higher than that of white Americans, a new US study finds.

The nearly 18 million Asian immigrants to the US are the country's fastest growing minority group, more than doubling in number since 1990, according to research by Brown University.

Data from the US census provided a snapshot of the Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese living in the US and how trends have changed.

The report, "Separate but Equal: Asian Nationalities in the US", found that Indians and Japanese were the most economically advantaged, and that Vietnamese had the lowest incomes and least education among Asian groups. Vietnamese nevertheless tended to live in neighbourhoods about on par with average white Americans, said the report.

Every other Asian nationality lived on average in districts with higher incomes and more college-educated residents than non-Hispanic whites did.

"We are so aware of the disadvantaged situation of blacks and Hispanics that we tend to assume that segregation results in unequal neighbourhoods for minorities," said John Logan, a professor at Brown University.

"This isn't the case for any major Asian nationality. And that means there is very little incentive for Asians to assimilate into white neighbourhoods."

When viewed as a single group, Asians are less segregated than Hispanics or blacks. But when divided into major ancestries, "they're more segregated than we thought", Logan wrote.

Chinese were the single biggest national group, with more than four million people - a quarter of the Asian total - followed by Filipinos (3.4 million) and Indians (3.2 million).

Indians had the highest median household income among Asians, at US$89,600 in 2010, outstripping non-Hispanic whites at US$54,000, and followed by Filipinos, Chinese and Japanese.

"Asians live separately but in some respects they live in better than equal neighbourhoods compared to whites," said the report.

"Although there are variations among the Asian national origin groups - with Vietnamese living generally in the least affluent neighbourhoods, and Japanese, Koreans and Indians in the more affluent areas - the findings are similar for all groups."

Los Angeles and New York have the highest number of Asian immigrants, with nearly 1.5 million in each metropolitan area.

The creation of Asian enclaves has been more pronounced in suburbs than inner cities. Slightly more than half of all Asians lived in suburbs in 2010, up from 42.2 per cent two decades earlier among similar groups.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg