Asians In America: A Focus On Taiwanese Americans

Recently, I covered the some of the overview of the numbers and statistics as they relate to Asian Americans in a new report from the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice). As I mentioned in the previous article, never before have we gotten such detailed information on each of the different Asian sub-groups. In this blog post, I’m going to focus on one sub-group, and the information found around them in the report, specifically the Taiwanese Americans. I was surprised to see Taiwanese broken out into its own category in the report and perhaps even more surprised by some of the numbers. Thinking about it though, it shouldn’t have surprised me, since I was one of those who marked my background as Taiwanese on the most recent census.

With 230,382 Taiwanese in the U.S. according to the 2010 Census, the Taiwanese are the 12th largest Asian population, just ahead of the Burmese and just behind Laotians. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Taiwanese in the U.S. grew by 59%, the fifth fastest growing Asian sub-group. The Taiwanese are also less likely among Asians to be mixed race, with 8% of those reporting as Taiwanese also reporting as mixed race (compared with 35% of Japanese respondents).

Compared to most other Asian Americans, Taiwanese tend to be a little older, averaging 35 years of age (the Japanese being the other notable older group at 38), and also less likely to speak English at home with 82% indicating a language other than English spoken at home, so perhaps not surprising, is that fact that 43% of Taiwanese (like my late mother) indicated they had limited proficiency in English.

The Taiwanese Americans as group were the second most likely at 67% (behind the Vietnamese Americans at 73%), to naturalize and become U.S. citizens. Taiwanese are also very likely to be foreign born, at 68%, reflecting the more recent immigration wave from Taiwan. 66% of those coming to the U.S. came on visas that were either family sponsored, or based on being an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, while 31% came on work or employment sponsored visas.

What struck me most about the next set of detailed numbers is that, it makes the Taiwanese sound like the hardest working people on the planet, at least those that live in the United States. The Taiwanese Americans had the highest educational attainment of any group, with 96% having completed high school and 73% completing college. The next highest group to complete college were Indian Americans at 68%. The Taiwanese Americans also had the highest per capita income of any Asian subgroup at $38,312, compared to the U.S. average at $27,100 and the second highest Asian sub-group (again Indian Americans) at $36,533.

The unemployment rate of the Taiwanese Americans was also one of the lowest at 5%. In addition, the Taiwanese have the highest rate of home ownership of Asian Americans at 66%, the only Asian sub-group to match the U.S. national average of 66%. With that it should be no surprise the Taiwanese were also the least likely to live in overcrowded housing, with only 2% of the Taiwanese American population affected. 14% of Taiwanese Americans did not have health insurance, compared with the national average of 15%.

Even with the highest per capita income, the percentage of Taiwanese Americans living in poverty exceeded the national average of 10%, with 12% of Taiwanese Americans living at or below poverty levels. Looking specifically at seniors, the rate was lower at 10%, matching the 10% national average. Perhaps a cultural by product, with so many Taiwanese Americans below poverty, only 1% of Taiwanese Americans asked for public assistance, below the average for the U.S.

Overall, it’s a pretty impressive picture for Taiwanese Americans. It’s not hard to see by the numbers that as group we’ve worked hard, and we should be proud of our accomplishments. It certainly makes me stand a little taller when I’m wearing my “Taiwanese American” t-shirt.

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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