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Asian American

Asian Americans
Total population


(5.6% of U.S. population)
2011 U.S. Census Bureau estimate
Regions with significant populations
Throughout the United States, especially Hawaii, the West Coast, and major urban areas elsewhere.
Christian (42%)
Unaffiliated (26%)
Buddhist (14%)
Hindu (10%)
Muslim (4%)
Sikh (1%)
Other (2%) including Jain
Related ethnic groups
Asian Americans of Hispanic and Latino ethnicity


Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The term refers to a panethnic group that includes diverse populations who have ancestral origins in East Asia, Southeast Asia, or South Asia, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. This includes people who indicate their race(s) on the census as "Asian" or reported entries such as "Bangladeshi", "Pakistani", "Chinese", "Indian", "Filipino", "Korean", "Japanese", "Sri Lankan", "Taiwanese", "Thai", "Vietnamese", or other Asian-origin groups. Asian Americans with no other ancestry comprise 4.8% of the U.S. population, while people who are Asian alone or combined with at least one other race make up 5.6%.

Although migrants from Asia have been in parts of the contemporary United States since the 17th century, large-scale immigration did not begin until the mid-18th century. Nativist immigration laws during the 1880s-1920s excluded various Asian groups, eventually prohibiting almost all Asian immigration to the continental United States. After immigration laws were reformed during the 1940s-60s, abolishing national origins quotas, Asian immigration increased rapidly. Analyses of the 2010 census have shown that Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial or ethnic minority in the United States.

Starting in the first few years of the 2000 decade, Asian American earnings began exceeding all other racial groups for both men and women. For example, in 2008 Asian Americans had the highest median household income overall of any racial demographic. In 2012, Asian Americans had the highest educational attainment level and median household income of any racial demographic in the country. In 2015, Asian American men were the highest earning racial group as they earned 117% as much as white American men and Asian-American women earned 106% as much as white American women.

Origins of foreign doctors in the US
Country of Origin Percentage of Total IMGs in US
India 19.9% (47,581)
Philippines 8.8% (20,861)
Pakistan 4.8% (11,330)
South Korea 2.1% (4,982)
China 2.0% (4,834)
Origins of foreign dentists in the US
Country of Origin Percentage of Total IDGs in US
India 25.8
Philippines 11.0
China 3.2
South Korea 3.2
Pakistan 2.9
Origins of foreign nurses in the US
Country of Origin Percentage of Total INGs in US
Philippines 50.2
India 1.3
Hong Kong 1.2
Israel 1.0
South Korea 1.0
Educational Attainment
(25 and older)
Ethnicity High school
graduation rate
Bachelor's degree
or higher (2010)
Filipinos 90.8% 48.1%
Indian 90.2% 70.7%
Pakistanis 87.4% 55.1%
Bangladeshis 84.5% 49.6%
Chinese 80.8% 51.8%
Japanese 93.4% 47.3%
Koreans 90.2% 52.9%
Vietnamese 70.0% 26.3%
Total U.S. population 83.9% 27.9%
Sources: 2004 and 2010

  • Bhatt, Amy, et al. Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest (2013)
  • Chan, Sucheng. "The changing contours of Asian-American historiography", Rethinking History, March 2007, Vol. 11 Issue 1, pp 125–147; surveys 100+ studies of defining events; Asian diasporas; social dynamics; cultural histories.
  • Chan, Sucheng. Asian Americans: an interpretive history (Twayne, 1991).
  • Chau Trinh-Shevrin, Nadia Shilpi Islam, Mariano Jose Rey. Asian American Communities and Health: Context, Research, Policy, and Action (Public Health/Vulnerable Populations), 2009.
  • Cheng, Cindy I-Fen. Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race during the Cold War (2013)
  • Chin, Gabriel J., Ed., U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: Reports on Asian Pacific Americans (2005)
  • Choi, Yoonsun. "Academic Achievement and Problem Behaviors among Asian Pacific Islander American Adolescents." (Archive, Alternate link) Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Received August 26, 2006. Accepted October 13, 2006. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. doi:10.1007/s10964-006-9152-4. May 2007, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 403–415.
  • Chiu, Monica, ed. Asian Americans in New England: Culture and Community (Durham: University of New Hampshire Press, 2009. xviii, 252 pp.)
  • Kwong, Peter and Dusanka Miscevic. Chinese America: The Untold Story of America's Oldest New Community (2005)
  • Lee, Jonathan H. X. History of Asian Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots (2015)
  • Lee, Jonathan H. X. and Fumitaka Matsuoka, eds. Asian American Religious Cultures (2 vol. 2015)
  • Lee, Jonathan H. X. and Kathleen M. Nadeau, eds. Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife (3 vol. 2010)
  • Ling, Huping, and Allan W. Austin, eds. Asian American History and Culture: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2015)
  • Lowe, Lisa Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.
  • Matsumoto, Jon. "Asian Americans Anchor Their Influence." Los Angeles Times. September 4, 1998.
  • Okihiro, Gary Y. The Columbia Guide to Asian American History (Columbia UP, 2005) excerpt and text search
  • Okihiro, Gary Y. American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders (University of California Press, 2015). xiv, 499 pp.
  • Pyong Gap Min Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Pine Science Press, 2005.
  • Takaki, Ronald Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans New York: Little, Brown, 1998. .
    • adapted by Rebecca Stefoff: Raising Cane. The World of Plantation Hawaii, Chelsea House Publishers, New York/Philadelphia 1994, .
  • Tamura, Eileen H. "Using the Past to Inform the Future: An Historiography of Hawaii's Asian and Pacific Islander Americans", Amerasia Journal, 2000, Vol. 26 Issue 1, pp 55–85
  • Wu, Frank H. Yellow: Race in American Beyond Black and White New York: Basic Books, 2002.
  • Zia, Helen Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000. .
  • Zhou, Min and Carl L. Bankston III Growing Up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1998. .
  • "Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths" (full report) (Archive). Pew Research Center. July 19, 2012.
  • adapted by Rebecca Stefoff: Raising Cane. The World of Plantation Hawaii, Chelsea House Publishers, New York/Philadelphia 1994, .


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