Request for Articles - Asian Americans: Diversity and Heterogeneity

Call for Papers for an Issue on:
Asian Americans: Diversity and Heterogeneity

Edited by

Jennifer Lee
Columbia University


Karthick Ramakrishnan
University of California, Riverside

Asian Americans are the fastest growing and most diverse group in the country; they were 1 percent of the population in 1970, 6.4 percent today and are projected to be about 10 percent by 2060. Immigration has driven much of this growth. China and India have surpassed Mexico as the leading sources of new immigrants, and by 2055, Asians will become the largest immigrant group (Colby and Ortman 2015; U.S. Census Bureau 2015).

The new face of immigration is Asian, but Asian is a catch-all category that masks tremendous diversity, heterogeneity, and inequality. In 1960, 80 percent of the U.S. Asian population was either Chinese or Japanese, but today their share is 20 percent. Immigrants and refugees from South and Southeast Asia have fueled the growth and diversity of the Asian American population U.S. Census Bureau 2016). And unlike other ethnoracial groups, most Asians are foreign-born (U.S. Census Bureau 2015). Two-thirds are immigrants and 90 percent are either immigrants or their children. Moreover, one in seven Asian immigrants is undocumented, and this group is growing at a faster rate than the Mexican and Central American undocumented populations (Ramakrishnan and Shah 2017).

Asian Americans are also diverse with respect to socioeconomic outcomes. Pew Research Center (2018) reports that income inequality among Asian Americans is rising rapidly, with those at the top tenth of the income distribution earning nearly 11 times those at the bottom tenth. Inequality among Asians is also high on indicators such as educational attainment, poverty, welfare receipt, and English language proficiency. The heterogeneity and inequality among Asian Americans, however, is often eclipsed by medians, means, and the model minority trope.

Yet, Asian Americans remain understudied, in part, due to the lack of nationally representative survey data. The 2016 National Asian American Survey (NAAS) rectifies this shortcoming as it is the first national survey to include ten groups—Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Hmong, and Cambodians. It is also the first national survey offered in ten Asian languages, along with English and Spanish, and also includes sizeable samples of Whites, Blacks, and Latinos. The 2016 NAAS includes questions about racial and ethnic identity, social attitudes, intergroup relations, political behavior, civic engagement, and policy attitudes. The data are weighted by Asian ethnicity across the following factors: gender, age, state of residence, education, and nativity.

Now that the 2016 NAAS is publicly available at (including the survey questionnaire, the survey codebook and microdata in both STATA or SPSS formats, as well as reports and infographics), we welcome contributions that draw on the NAAS to address research questions about the U.S. Asian population. We are also making available, for the first time, sub-state geographic identifiers on request, based on the proposed research question and design of the study.

Because one of the unique features of NAAS is its inclusion of ten diverse Asian groups, we strongly encourage papers that draw on intragroup comparisons in the analyses. Researchers are also welcome to submit papers that make intergroup comparisons of Asians with other U.S. ethnoracial groups, but if they choose not to disaggregate the Asian category, we ask for a justification for this decision.

We seek papers from many disciplines and perspectives, including (but not limited to) sociology, political science, psychology, economics, education, geography, ethnic studies and urban studies.

We welcome submissions that use NAAS independently or in combination with other surveys such as the American Community Survey (ACS), National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY), Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA), American National Election Study (ANES), the General Social Survey (GSS), California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and more. We also welcome papers that adopt multiple methods, and combine analyses of NAAS with experiments, in-depth interviews, oral histories, ethnography, or content analysis. All papers must, however, include analyses of the NAAS as an important component of their papers for serious consideration for this issue. For example, NAAS can be the primary or sole dataset, it can play an important role in setting context and motivation, it can be used to validate or challenge findings from other data sources, and it can be used as illustrative evidence to support theory development.

There are two waves of the 2016 NAAS: (1) The Fall Pre-Election Survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; (2) The Post-Election Survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The modules for both surveys are available in the Appendix. The Pre-Election Survey includes 2,238 Asian Americans adult interviews conducted by telephone from August 10 to September 29, 2016. The Post-Election Survey includes 4,393 telephone interviews of Asian American adults conducted between November 10, 2016 and March 2, 2017. Both waves also include sizeable samples of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. A list of the Modules to both the pre-election survey and post-election surveys can be found in the Appendix.

NAAS is unique in four main ways. First, NAAS includes ten Asian groups, and is the first national survey to include Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. The inclusion of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is important given that South Asian immigration is largely driving the growth of the U.S. Asian population. Second, NAAS was offered in ten Asian languages, along with English and Spanish. Third, NAAS includes a broad range of attitudinal and experiential questions that tap into the unique attitudes and experiences of the U.S. Asian population. Fourth, NAAS also includes questions that are replicated from GSS and ANES to allow for inter-group comparisons.

Below we offer (non-exhaustive) examples illustrative of the kinds of thematic questions that are well suited for this issue:



1. Educational Outcomes

  • The children of Asian immigrants exhibit, on average, higher educational outcomes compared to other U.S. ethnoracial groups, in part, because of the hyper-selectivity of contemporary Asian immigrants and its spill-over effects (Lee and Zhou 2015). While hyper-selectivity helps to explain the educational outcomes of the children of immigrants like Chinese and Koreans, how useful is it in explaining the educational outcomes of children of other Asian groups? To what extent is hyper-selectivity a useful theoretical concept to explain the achievement paradox for other Asian and non-Asian groups?
  • How do educational outcomes differ for the children of immigrants and refugees—such as Cambodians, Hmong, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis—who hail from groups that are not hyper-selected? What other institutional, ethnic, and/or social psychological processes explain disparate and unequal educational outcomes among second-generation Asians? How do neighborhood racial composition, segregation, and school context affect educational outcomes, and how do these effects differ among Asian groups?

2. Labor Market Outcomes

  • Asian Americans graduate from college at higher rates than all other groups, including native-born Whites, but their educational gains do not fully translate into labor market outcomes. Native-born, college-educated Asian males earn 8 percent less than their White counterparts, controlling for college type, major, years of work experience, and metropolitan area (Kim and Sakaomoto 2010). Native-born, college-educated Asian females earn as much as their White female counterparts but are less likely to be promoted to managerial positions (Kim and Zhao 2014). In addition, surveys of technology firms show that Asian American professionals are the least likely to be promoted into managerial and executive positions, despite being overrepresented in these jobs (Gee and Peck 2017). What explains the Asian-White earnings and promotions gap, and how does this gap vary by gender, nativity, and occupational niche?
  • Asian American professionals may face a “bamboo ceiling”—an invisible barrier that blocks mobility like the glass ceiling does for women. If this is the case, what are the institutional, cultural, or social psychological explanations for this? Are there gender differences in how bamboo ceiling affects Asian American males and females? How does blocked mobility in the workplace relate to other types of discrimination and micro-aggressions that Asian Americans may experience? And how might blocked mobility affect social attitudes about equal opportunity and support for affirmative action in the workplace?



3. Refugees

  • Refugees are, by definition, migrants whose arrival and incorporation in the U.S. have been shaped by political factors at home and abroad. And yet, Asian refugee populations vary significantly in their geographic patterns of residence, entry into political life, and educational attainment among the second generation. How do the social attitudes, political attitudes, and civic engagement of Asian refugee populations differ—particularly between Cambodian, Hmong, and Vietnamese Americans—and what factors account for these differences? In addition, how does the social, political, and economic incorporation of various Asian refugee groups vary from the incorporation of asylum and refugee populations from Central America and elsewhere?
  • The context of emigration differs for Asian immigrants and refugees, as does their mode of incorporation upon arriving to the United States. How might these differences—along with differences in selectivity, socioeconomic status, and geographies of residence—affect socioeconomic, political, or sociocultural outcomes and attitudes?



4. Voting

  • Asian Americans have the lowest voter turnout of all U.S. groups, even among those who are U.S.-born and highly educated (Wong et al. 2011). While there are differences among Asian groups, Asian Americans, on average, evince low rates of political participation. What factors explain their low rate of political participation? How does participation differ by national origin, nativity, socioeconomic status, immigrant generation, and gender?

5. Civic Engagement

  • Civic engagement also includes forms of political participation such as protesting and attending public hearings, participating in community organizations and volunteering to address community problems. There appear to be significant differences in civic engagement between Asians and other racial groups and across Asian American national origin groups. What accounts for these differences, and what are some consequences and implications of low levels of volunteerism and charitable contribution activity?

6. Public Opinion

  • Despite tremendous diversity in the socioeconomic outcomes of Asians of different national origins, surveys indicate agreement across these groups on matters of public opinion such as support for greater government spending, higher taxes, more environmental protection, and stricter gun control laws. How do we explain the disconnect between the variation in education and income of Asian groups yet relative consensus on matters of public opinion that are usually associated with these factors? Why are Asian Americans more divided on some issues while more consensual on others?

7. Affirmative Action in Higher Education

  • What are some of the implications of differential educational attainment among Asian groups for sociopolitical attitudes and civic engagement, including support for and/or activism related to issues such as affirmative action in higher education?



8. Racial and Ethnic Identities

  • Given the diversity of Asian populations with respect to immigrant selectivity, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, ethnic capital, and phenotype, to what extent does “Asian American” constitute a meaningful social and/or political category? If racial, ethnic, and/or class fault lines are emerging, on what social and political issues are the fault lines most pronounced, and to what extent do these fault lines divide Asian Americans?

9. Linked Fate

  • African Americans have historically exhibited a strong sense of “linked fate”—the belief that one’s prospects are tied to one’s racial group (Dawson 1994; Gay et al. 2016; Lien et al. 2003). How does linked fate among Asian Americans compare to that among African Americans? What are the social and psychological underpinnings of linked fate among Asian Americans? To what extent does it affect political attitudes, behavior, and party identification, especially given the tremendous diversity and inequality among Asian Americans?



10. Inter-group and Intra-group Attitudes

  • To what extent do experiences with discrimination, intergroup attitudes, or intergroup contact affect Asian Americans’ attitudes of public policies like affirmative action, beliefs about equality, or support for the Black Lives Matter Movement? Do Asians align more closely with minority groups like Blacks and Latinos in their attitudes, or do they align more closely with Whites? What explains the variation in attitudes?

11. Religious Diversity

  • Asian Americans are religiously diverse, with large populations of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and sizeable numbers who are atheist or unaffiliated with any religious denomination (Wong 2018). To what extent does religious identification affect social and political incorporation? For example, are members of particular religious traditions more likely to support social welfare spending than others? How do racial attitudes vary across Asian American religious groups? And how does the connection between religious engagement and civic engagement vary across Asian American groups, and between Asians and other racial groups?


Prospective contributors should submit a proposal of no more than four pages in length (single or double spaced). The proposal should include an abstract (up to two pages in length) of their study. In addition, contributors must include some preliminary analyses of NAAS (up to two pages in length), including sample sizes, tables, figures, preliminary models, etc. Proposed paper submissions should be uploaded as a single document, received no later than 5 PM EST on 4/2/19 to our application portal: (New applicants will be required to create an account before submitting a proposal.)

All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only proposals submitted to our application portal: will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published.

The journal issue is being edited by Jennifer Lee, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University; and Karthick Ramakrishnan, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University of California, Riverside. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City on Friday, December 6, 2019. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due on November 6, 2019, a month prior to the conference) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts on or before 2/6/2020. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for peer review. Authors will receive their review in early May and revised papers will be due in by 6/30/20. The full and final issue will be published in spring 2021.



Colby, Sandra L. and Jennifer M. Ortman. 2015. “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060.” Current Population Reports. Available online at: (Accessed July 14, 2018).

Dawson, Michael C. 1994. Behind the Mule. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gay, Claudine, Jennifer Hochschild and Ariel White. 2016. “Americans’ Belief in Linked Fate: Does the Measure Capture the Concept?” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics 1: 117–144.

Gee, Buck, and Denise Peck, “The Illusion of Asian Success: Scant Progress for Minorities in Cracking the Glass Ceiling from 2007–2015.” Ascend. Available on-line at: (Accessed December 10, 2018).

Kim, ChangHwan, and Arthur Sakamoto. 2010. “Have Asian American Men Achieved Labor Market Parity with White Men?” American Sociological Review 75 (6): 934–57.

Kim, ChangHwan, and Yang Zhao. 2014. “Are Asian American Women Advantaged? Labor Market Performance of College Educated Female Workers.” Social Forces 93 (2): 623–52.

Lee, Jennifer, and Min Zhou. 2015. The Asian American Achievement Paradox. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Lien, Pei-te, M. Margaret Conway and Janelle Wong. 2003. “The Contours and Sources of Ethnic Identity Choices Among Asian Americans.” Social Science Quarterly 84 (2): 461-481.

Pew Research Report. 2018. “Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Rising Most Rapidly Among Asians.” Pew Research Center. July 12, 2018. Available online at: (Accessed December 9, 2018).

Ramakrishnan, Karthick, and Sono Shah. 2017. One out of every 7 Asian immigrants is undocumented. AAPIData. Available from (Accessed December 9, 2018).

U.S. Census Bureau. 2016. “B02015. Asian Along by Selected Groups,” 2016 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, retrieved via

U.S. Census Bureau. 2015. American Community Survey’s Public-Use Files from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), 2013-2015.

Wong, Janelle S. 2018. Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Wong, Janelle S., Karthick Ramakrishnan, Taeku Lee, and Jane Junn. 2011. Asian American Participation. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.


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