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Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States

Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States

Herbert R. Barringer
Robert W. Gardner
Michael J. Levin
Copyright Date: 1993
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 392
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  • Book Info
    Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States
    Book Description:

    Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States examines in comprehensive detail the most rapidly growing and quickly changing minority group in the United States. Once a small population, this group is now recognized by official census counts and by society as a diverse people, comprised of Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Hawaiians, Samoans, and many other heritages. However, the conception that Asians are a single and successful model minority still exists, though they are in fact a complex and multidimensional people still struggling in the pursuit of the American dream.

    "...a major addition to the literature on recent immigration. The book is lucidly written by three demographers eager to convey their findings and analyses to general readers as well as to fellow professionals. It provides easily accessible information and useful commentary, making it an excellent resource for anyone interested in those groups now lumped together under a single Census Bureau rubric." -Choice

    "This is a demographer's delight....The major question addressed in this book is: How well are the new Asian immigrants adapting to American society? Barringer, Gardner, and Levin cogently argue and convincingly demonstrate that the response to the question is much more complex than suggested by articles in the popular important book and highly recommended." -Contemporary Sociology

    "For the real scoop on the state of Asian America, turn to the Russell Sage Foundation's excellent Asians and Pacific Islanders of the United States. The best demographic overview, it makes a strong case for Asian-American success without overlooking genuine problems." -Reason

    "...a comprehensive study of the size, diversity, and complexity of the Asian and Pacific Islander populations based on the 1980 census and subsequent mid-census assessments prior to the 1990 census....sheds a particularly interesting light on the shifting nature of recent Asian and Pacific Islander immigration and the related but often undocumented secondary movement of populations after arrival." -The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

    A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-026-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. List of Figures
    (pp. xix-xx)
    (pp. 1-18)

    Flexibility was a trait greatly admired by the ancient Chinese. Few Asian Americans read Confucius these days, and many have no reason to do so. Nevertheless, their many modes of adaptation to American society might very well have pleased the great teacher. Asian Americans come from extremely diverse societies, and from all social classes. They are to be found in America in all walks of life, as doctors, teachers, businessmen, and laborers. Correctly or not, they have acquired the image of highly successful immigrants—the “model minorities.” Whatever one may think of that cliche, it must be admitted that it...

    (pp. 19-51)

    In this chapter and the next we look at the demography of Asian Americans: the size of the population, the factors contributing to its growth (immigration, emigration, births, deaths), and some basic demographic characteristics (age and sex composition). Knowledge of these demographic factors is essential to a broader understanding of the socioeconomic situation of Asian Americans today.

    Of all the factors affecting the size, growth, composition, and distribution of the Asian American population over the years, immigration has undoubtedly been the most important. From the first unrecorded trickles of Asians to these shores, to the sudden rush of Chinese to...

    (pp. 52-105)

    Although immigration has clearly caused much of the recent growth of the Asian American population, fertility and mortality have also affected the size, growth, and character of the population. In this section and the next we examine these two factors, then conclude the chapter with a discussion of the age and sex composition of Asian Americans.

    The United States has excellent vital statistics. They do not allow us, however, to calculate estimates of current or recent fertility or mortality for Asian Americans of a level of quality comparable to estimates for blacks, Hispanics, and whites.

    Birth rates and death rates...

    (pp. 106-133)

    In this chapter we shall examine facts about the geographic distribution of Asian Americans and how it has been changing.¹ A limited number of demographic factors determine the geographic distribution of any population: where people are bornnd die, and where they move.² Beyond the demographic factors are deeper causes: why people locate and move as they do. Here we invoke history, the need for reliance on ethnic resources, “assimilation,” and socioeconomic characteristics and trcnds as important factors.

    In the case of Asian Americans, both historically and currently, the most important demographic factor has been immigration: where have newly arrived immigrants...

    (pp. 134-163)

    Despite their many other dissimilarities, Asian Americans share strong traditions of extended kinship ties.¹ Historically, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese families differed somewhat from one another, but all derived their basic norms and values from Confucianism. These included obedience to and responsibility for parents, patrilinearity, patriarchy, a preference for sons, and considerable personal interdependence. Much the same is true of Asian Indian family norms. Filipinos differ most noticeably in a much more egalitarian role for women. With urbanization and industrialization, of course, Asian families have been undergoing changes that include nuclearization in their home societies. Nevertheless, all literature on contemporary...

    (pp. 164-192)

    This chapter begins an examination of the achievements of Asian Americans in the areas of education, occupation and employment, and earnings, and continues in Chapters 7 and 8. Each chapter can stand alone, but for full impact, they probably should be read together. The phenomenon we shall be exploring begins with education, which, for most Asian Americans, is quite extraordinary.

    As we pointed out in Chapter 5, the Confucian ethic is often cited as an important determinant of the desire for education among Asian Americans. This may be seen as a result of history, because East-Asian societies made education a...

    (pp. 193-230)

    We have seen that Asian Americans are generally well educated, and that their families tend to be stable. Still, those strengths must be converted to desirable jobs. This is problematic enough for white Americans, but may be especially difficult for immigrants, who must overcome problems of language, culture, information, and possible discrimination to obtain employment commensurate with their backgrounds and skills. Most American employers are ignorant of the status of various Asian universities or other symbols of prestige accrued from occupations in Asian countries. Information networks available to native-born Americans may be closed to immigrants, so newcomers must rely on...

    (pp. 231-267)

    Our examination of Asian Americans to this point shows that most groups have more stable households and families, compared to other Americans. Asian Americans far excel other Americans in terms of education. Finally, with a few exceptions, they appear to hold their own in terms of occupational status. These points are not ordinarily disputed, but there is great debate about how well those strengths are converted into earnings.

    Income is the ultimate criterion in the literature for the success of immigrants or minorities in American society. There are several reasons why this is so: first, income is undeniably the first...

    (pp. 268-314)

    In 1990, the 365,024 Pacific Islanders recorded in the United States Census were 5 percent of the total Asian and Pacific Islander population. In 1980 the census counted 259,566 Pacific Islanders, constituting 7 percent of the Asian and Pacific Islander population. Although the absolute number of Pacific Islanders in the United States increased by 46 percent during the decade, their part of the total Asian and Pacific Islander population decreased because of the very large number of Asian immigrants, as seen in the earlier chapters.

    Census publications before 1980 did not show any Pacific Islander group separately except Hawaiians. Therefore,...

    (pp. 315-321)

    This poignant statement expresses perfectly the ambivalence many Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants and children of immigrants feel about their new home. The “land of opportunity” has sharp edges for newcomers. Yet, as we have seen, nearly all immigrants from Asia will remain, become American citizens, and find some niches in American society. Chances are, the longer they stay, the more like other Americans they will become, warts and all. But from what we have seen in the preceding pages, that does not imply a “melting away” into the great American pot. More important, the process of adapting to America...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 322-344)
  17. Name Index
    (pp. 345-348)
  18. Subject Index
    (pp. 349-371)