Separate but Equal: Asian Nationalities in the U.S.

Weiwei Zhang , Brown University
Publication Date:
Jan 2013
Published In:
Project Programs:
U.S. 2010

Six distinct Asian national origin groups now number more than a million in the United States. This report points out the substantial differences among them and draws out some of their implications. Their share of immigrants ranges from under half to over three quarters; their share below poverty is as low as 6% and as high as 15%; some are especially concentrated in Los Angeles and others in New York. As the Asian population grows in size and diversity, it becomes less useful to think about Asian Americans as a single category. It is more accurate to study Chinese and Indians, Filipinos and Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese.

Doing so leads to two main findings. First, every Asian nationality except Japanese is more segregated from whites than are Asians as a broad category. In fact, two of the largest nationalities (Chinese and Indians) are about as segregated as Hispanics, Vietnamese are as segregated as African Americans, and there has been little change in the last two decades.
Second, quite unlike the case of Hispanics and African Americans, Asian national origin groups live in neighborhoods that are generally comparable to those of whites, and in some respects markedly better. The Asian pattern is separate but equal (or even more than equal), raising questions about the prospect or value of their residential assimilation in the future.


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