Asian Americans in Suburban America: Academic Competition, Youth Culture and Racial Change

Project Date:
Aug 2016
Award Amount:
$119,093

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and the countries sending the most immigrants to the United States every year are now China and India. The relative lack of attention to Asian immigrants and their children, compared to Hispanic immigrants, might be due in part to many Asian-American groups’ relative success and assimilation—Asian Americans have the highest overall incomes and levels of education of all ethnic and racial groups in the United States. Still, while measures of assimilation suggest increasing incorporation into the “mainstream,” other evidence suggests the emergence of new forms of differentiation and stratification. Some evidence suggests that whites increasingly feel a sense of “group threat” from successful Asian Americans. Upwardly-mobile Asian-American families have been moving into wealthy, and formerly white, neighborhoods to increase educational opportunities for their children, changing the ethnic and cultural landscapes of those communities.

Sociologist Natasha Warikoo will study two wealthy suburbs (where the median household income is over $100,000, median house value is above $500,000, and poverty rate is under seven percent) that differ in terms of their percent Asian population. She will explore how group boundaries, beliefs about success, youth culture, and conceptions of race change when upwardly-mobile Asian Americans move into these higher-income, predominantly white suburbs.

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