Documenting The Rise Of Asian Majority Suburbs: Numbers And Implications

While the rise of Asian Ethnoburbs had been highlighted last year, the much debated (and maligned) Pew Report on Asian Americans says that only around 11% of Asian Americans live in such neighborhoods.  The report implies that Asian Americans are more likely to assimilate into more affluent white neighborhoods.  Is this the case, or is there more to the story?  This article in the Atlantic examines data regarding majority Asian suburbs such as those in the San Gabriel Valley.  Amidst its many graphs and tables, the article shows that some of the Pew Reports conclusions are simplified, and stresses many of the points that many make about statistics about Asian Americans.

How does this study take issue with the Pew Report?  Merlin Chowkwanyun and Jordan Segall, the authors of the study, point out that while only 11% percent of Asian Americans live in majority Asian, there are fewer total Asian Americans and so less of a chance to create racial enclaves.  Even the Pew report mentions this.   The article also points out that trends creating areas like the San Gabriel Valley are continuing, and more Asian American majority suburbs are likely to emerge, possibly in New Jersey.

Another contrast with the glowing economic success story told by the Pew Report is the economic diversity with the San Gabriel Valley.  Asian American median income in Monterey Park is $51,608 compared to $154,744 in San Marino.  Many who study Asian American populations have argued that studies of Asian Americans need to disaggregate data.

The article touches on another factor that has bearing on reports of Asian American wealth – the larger Asian American household size.  Many statistics focus on households, such as median income.  Asian American households are typically bigger, and the authors illustrate this by showing how areas that are not majority Asian households become Asian majorities if you take into consider population.  That makes Asian American household income statistics less impressive, as you have more workers to divide up that income and more mouths to feed within that household.  My own household has three wage earners in it.

I recommend checking out this article.  It isn’t always easy to follow, but it does have a lot of excellent data about Asian American neighborhoods, and even shows stats about my neighborhood in San Jose.  In addition, check out the comment by an A_Lee.  Not sure if that is the same A_Lee who has commented on 8asians in the past, but his analysis of the evolution of the San Gabriel Valley is insightful and amusing.

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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