Houston Area Asian Survey:DIVERSITY AND TRANSFORMATIONAMONG ASIANS IN HOUSTON
February 2013Kinder Institute for Urban ResearchRice University, MS 2086100 Main StreetHouston, TX 77005Telephone: (713) 3...
DIVERSITY ANDTRANSFORMATIONAMONG ASIANS IN   HOUSTON: Findings from the Kinder Institute’s     Houston Area Asian Survey  ...
Houston Area Asian Survey Sponsors                               Asia Society of Texas Center          Dr. and Mrs. George...
TABLE OF CONTENTS    .Page    INTRODUCTION	 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
Ethnic Divides in Perspectives on Immigration and Intergroup Relations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2...
INTRODUCTION    This report presents some of the most important                                        Drawing on the thre...
While the rest of the country was languishing in        The global recession in that year had suppressedthe national reces...
Figure 1 — The U.S. Census Figures for Harris County, 1960 to 2010                              4.5                       ...
Figure 2 — The Geographic Distribution of Harris County’s Ethnic Populations, from the U.S. Census of 1980 and of 2010Sour...
The Houston Numbers                                                 population grew the most rapidly of all, expanding    ...
The GIS map depicted in Figure 4 shows the            the Braeswood-to-Bellaire sector close to the Texasgeographical dist...
The Immigration Reform Act                                than 40 million, representing 13 percent of the total           ...
already the largest of Harris County’s Asian             had slipped into third place, now numbering slightly communities,...
Conducting the Surveys                                  African-American or Latino adult, but only four or                ...
The distributions by country of origin among                                                         firm, to conduct a sy...
ETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN MIGRATION    PATTERNS, AGE AND EDUCATION    Through telephone interviews averaging more than        ...
Migration Patterns                                     2011 survey were first-generation immigrants.                      ...
The median age of the Harris County population                                  likely to be living in poverty – 80 percen...
A Bifurcated Immigration                                                                    counterparts, but much lower l...
The “Model Minority” Myth                                 the newcomers from Mexico, Central America or                   ...
DIFFERENCES IN LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES    AMONG THE ASIAN COMMUNITIES    Figure 8 shows that the high levels of educational    ...
among the Vietnamese than in the other Asian                                           Clearly, many Vietnamese are having...
A clear majority of the Filipinos (56 percent) and                                         The Primary Reasons  the Indian...
Still a “Glass Ceiling”?                                                that four or more people were living in their     ...
prevent them from earning salaries equivalent to                                        Ethnic Divides in Perspectives    ...
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013
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  • Now in its 31st year, the annual Kinder Houston Area Survey has measured this region's remarkable economic and demographic transformations and recorded the way area residents are responding to them. No other metropolitan area in America has been the focus of a research program of this scope. None more clearly exemplifies the trends that are rapidly refashioning the social and political landscape of urban America than Houston.
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Kinder Institute Asian Survey 2013

  1. 1. Houston Area Asian Survey:DIVERSITY AND TRANSFORMATIONAMONG ASIANS IN HOUSTON
  2. 2. February 2013Kinder Institute for Urban ResearchRice University, MS 2086100 Main StreetHouston, TX 77005Telephone: (713) 348-4132http://www.kinder.rice.eduFor additional copies of this publication and for further information, please contact the Rice UniversityKinder Institute for Urban Research at kinder@rice.edu.Copyright © 2013 by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. All rights reserved.On the Cover: Clockwise from top, left - “George Fujimoto,” “Ratna G. Sarkar,” “Rathna Kumar,” “RachelSoyon Otto,” “Eric Shin” and “Huan Le.” All photos courtesy of the Houston Asian American Archives –Chao Center for Asian Studies, Woodson Research Center, Rice University.*The copyright holder for this material is either unknown or unable to be found. This material is being made available by Rice University for non-profit educationaluse under the Fair Use Section of US Copyright Law. This digital version is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
  3. 3. DIVERSITY ANDTRANSFORMATIONAMONG ASIANS IN HOUSTON: Findings from the Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Asian Survey (1995, 2002, 2011) By Stephen L. Klineberg, Principal Investigator Co-Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research Jie Wu, Research Project Manager
  4. 4. Houston Area Asian Survey Sponsors Asia Society of Texas Center Dr. and Mrs. George C. Yang / Asia Chemical Corporation Chinese Community Center Southern News Group Mr. Barry D. Warner / Saigon Tex News Ms. Grace Lynn Mr. David Leebron and Ms. Y. Ping SunThanks also to the following for their support of the Houston Area Asian Survey research effort: Gordon Quan, Donna Cole, Dr. Long S. Le, Dr. Beverly Gor, Glen Gondo, Dr. Patrick Leung, Kim Szeto, Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University, Rice University Office of Public Affairs, and the Woodson Research Center, Rice University Fondren Library. Special thanks to the Asia Society of Texas Center, Richmond Printing, andRogene Calvert and Mustafa Tameez of Outreach Strategists for facilitating the survey release.
  5. 5. TABLE OF CONTENTS .Page INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Houston, from 1900 to 1982 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 THE DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Figure 1 The U.S. Census Figures for Harris County, 1960 to 2010 Figure 2 The Geographic Distribution of Harris County’s Ethnic Populations, from the U.S. Census of 1980 and of 2010 The Houston Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Figure 3 The U.S. Census Figures for Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties in 1990, 2000 and 2010 Figure 4 The Geographic Distribution of the Asian Populations in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, from the U.S. Census of 2010 The Immigration Reform Act of 1965 that Changed America. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Table 1 Harris County’s Asian Populations in the U.S. Census of 1990, 2000 and 2010 Conducting the Surveys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 5 Harris County’s Asian Populations by Country of Origin, in the U.S. Census and in the Three Asian Surveys Combined ETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN MIGRATION PATTERNS, AGE AND EDUCATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Migration Patterns in Four Communities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Table 2 Age and Migration Patterns in Four Ethnic Communities Age and Ethnicity in Houston. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Figure 6 Ethnicity by Age in Harris County, from the U.S. Census of 2010 A Bifurcated Immigration into a Bifurcated Economy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Figure 7 Distributions by Education in Five Communities The “Model Minority” Myth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 DIFFERENCES IN LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES AMONG THE ASIAN COMMUNITIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Figure 8 Distributions by Education among the Four Largest Asian Communities Income Differences among the Asians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Figure 9 Distributions by Household Income among the Four Largest Asian Communities The Primary Reasons for Coming to America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Figure 10 The Most Important Reasons Given for Immigrating to America among the Four Largest Asian Communities Still a “Glass Ceiling”? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Figure 11 Distributions by Education and Income among Anglos and Asians in Harris County The Houston Area Asian Survey 3
  6. 6. Ethnic Divides in Perspectives on Immigration and Intergroup Relations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Figure 12 Distributions by Beliefs about Immigration and Ethnic Diversity among the Four Major Ethnic Communities Figure 13 The Average Ratings Given by Asians to Relations with the Three Other Ethnic Communities on the 10-Point ScaleCONTRASTS IN RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL PERSPECTIVES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Figure 14 Distributions by Religious Preference in Four Asian Communities and among all Asians Political Affiliations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Figure 15 Political Party Affiliation among Harris County’s Three Largest Asian Communities in 1995, 2002 and 2011 Figure 16 Distributions on Attitudes toward the Role of Government among the Four Major Ethnic CommunitiesSOME FURTHER GLIMPSES INTO THE FUTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 The Changing Waves of Vietnamese Immigration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Table 3 Selected Differences among Successive Streams of Vietnamese Immigrants The Rise of the Second Generation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Figure 17 Distributions by Immigrant Generation and by Time in the U.S. among Harris County’s Asian Populations in 1995, 2002 and 2011 Figure 18 Distributions by Education and Income among the First and Second Generations of Asian Immigrants in Harris CountySUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36REFERENCE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40APPENDIX: DISTRIBUTIONS OF RESPONSES AMONG THE FOUR ETHNIC COMMUNITIESON SELECTED ITEMS FROM THE KINDER INSTITUTE’S 2011 HOUSTON AREA SURVEY. . . . . . 414 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  7. 7. INTRODUCTION This report presents some of the most important Drawing on the three Asian surveys spanning findings from three expanded versions, in 16 years (from 1995 to 2011), we document particular, of the Kinder Institute’s annual the distinctiveness of the Asian experience in “Houston Area Survey” (1982-2012). In all but comparison with Harris County’s Anglos, blacks one of the years between 1994 and 2012, the and Latinos; we explore the most important basic random samples of Harris County residents differences in life circumstances, attitudes have been expanded to reach large representative and beliefs among the area’s four largest Asian samples, numbering about 500 each, from the communities – Vietnamese, Indians/Pakistanis, county’s Anglo, African-American and Hispanic Chinese/Taiwanese and Filipinos; and we consider populations. In 1995, 2002 and 2011, generous some of the implications of the survey findings for additional contributions from the wider Houston the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. community made it possible to include equally large representative samples of the region’s Houston, from 1900 to 1982 varied Asian communities, with one-fourth of the interviews being conducted in Vietnamese, Throughout most of the twentieth century, and Cantonese, Mandarin or Korean. especially in the years after World War II, Houston was America’s quintessential “boomtown.” This In the pages that follow, we first describe the was basically a “one-horse” industrial city, with 82 remarkable demographic trends that have percent of all its primary-sector jobs tied to the oil transformed this Anglo-dominated biracial business, focused on refining hydrocarbons into southern city of 30 years ago into what is today the gasoline and petrochemicals and on servicing the single most ethnically diverse large metropolitan oil and gas industry (Thomas and Murray 1991). region in the country (Emerson et al. 2012). “Gene’s Food Market, Houston, Texas, interior view, 1958.” Photographer unknown. Gene & Hedy Lee Chinese language newspapers & photographs, 1976-1985 (MS 556), Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.* *The copyright holder for this material is either unknown or unable to be found. This material is being made available by Rice University for non-profit educational use under the Fair Use Section of US Copyright Law. This digital version is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. The Houston Area Asian Survey 5
  8. 8. While the rest of the country was languishing in The global recession in that year had suppressedthe national recession known as the “stagflating demand for oil just as new supplies were coming70s,” Houston had already become the energy onto world markets. The price of Texas crude fellcapital of the world, widely regarded as the from around $32 per barrel to less than $28 at the“Golden Buckle of the Sun Belt,” its prime end of 1983. The all-important rig count enteredindustrial products growing many times more into the “free fall” that took it from a peak of 4,530valuable with no lessening of world demand. rigs drilling for oil on U.S. territory down to lessThanks to the Arab oil embargo and then the than 3,000 by the close of 1982 (Fallows 1985). TheIranian Revolution, the price of a barrel of Texas value of the Mexican peso also plummeted in thatoil increased from $3.39 in 1971, to $12.64 in 1979, year, reducing the number of affluent Mexicansto $31.77 in 1981. During the decade of the 1970s, coming to the city to shop, and the overvaluedthe value of foreign trade through the Port of dollar made American products more expensiveHouston grew ten-fold, local bank deposits tripled abroad, causing a rapid decline in exports from thein value, and the region led the nation in housing Port of Houston.starts, real estate investments, and the growth ofmanufacturing (Feagin 1988). Over the next few years the recession deepened and then spread across the entire economy. OneDuring those heady years between 1970 and of every seven jobs that were in Houston in 19821982, Harris County gained almost one million disappeared by early 1987, marking this as theadditional inhabitants. Newcomers from across worst regional recession in any part of the countryAmerica – overwhelmingly non-Hispanic whites at any time since World War II. “After years of– were pouring into this booming city: 1,380 drawing aces,” Thomas and Murray (1991:62)people a week were being added to the county’s observed, “Houston’s economic luck had turnedpopulation; every day on average, more than 230 sour.” A new and very different chapter in the city’sadditional cars and trucks were pouring onto its history was about to begin.streets and freeways. Then suddenly, in May 1982,the oil boom collapsed.THE DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTIONThe Houston region recovered from the prolongedrecession of the mid-1980s to find itself squarelyin the midst of a restructured, two-tiered,knowledge-based, fully global economy and a trulyremarkable transformation in its ethnic and culturalcomposition. Figure 1 depicts the U.S. Census figuresfor Harris County in each of the last six decades.The figures show clearly that the region’s surgingpopulation growth during the oil-boom years of the1960s and 1970s was brought about primarily by theinflux of Anglos, the non-Hispanic white Americanswho were streaming into this energy capital fromother parts of the country. The Anglo numbersgrew by 31 percent in the 1960s and by another 25percent in the 1970s. By 1981 Houston had overtaken “Jade Buddha Temple.” Southwest Houston.Philadelphia to become the fourth largest city in Photo by Megan Dillingham, January 2013.America, with a population that was still almost two-thirds Anglo and only 2 percent Asian.6 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  9. 9. Figure 1 — The U.S. Census Figures for Harris County, 1960 to 2010 4.5 7.7% Asians/Others 4.0 Hispanics 3.5 6.7% Blacks 3.0 Anglos 4.1% 32.9% 40.8% 2.1% 2.5 22.7% 15.5% POPULATION, IN MILLIONS 2.0 0.8% 18.4% 19.7% 18.2% 19.1% 9.9% 1.5 0.3% 6.0% 20.1% 1.0 19.8% 33.0% 62.7% 42.1% 54.0% 69.2% 0.5 73.9% 0.0 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 (1,243,258) (1,741,912) (2,409,547) (2,818,199) (3,400,578) (4,092,459) Source: U.S. Census. Classifications based on Texas State Data Center conventions. After the collapse of oil prices in 1982, Harris County’s population was now 41 percent Hispanic, County’s Anglo numbers stopped growing and then 18 percent African-American, and 8 percent Asian declined. Yet the county’s population expanded by or other. another 17 percent in the 1980s and by 21 and 20 percent in the ensuing two decades. The county’s The GIS maps presented in Figure 2 illustrate continued growth during the past three decades is this demographic revolution. In the U.S. Census attributable almost exclusively to immigration from of 1980, the tracts that were majority Anglo abroad as well as to new births often the children of (shown in red) overwhelmingly predominated. earlier immigrants and of U.S.-born Latinos, Asians The majority African-American census tracts and African Americans. (in black) were confined to the “black corridor” (Bullard 1987) along the eastern side of Downtown, During the decade of the 1990s, while the county’s primarily in the Third Ward and the Fifth Ward. Anglo population was actually declining by more The predominantly Latino tracts (in brown) than 6 percent, its black population increased 15 were concentrated in the “Segundo Barrio” along percent, its Hispanic population by 75 percent the Houston Ship Channel, and there was just a and its Asian population by 76 percent. Between smattering of census tracts around the downtown 2000 and 2010, the Houston metro region grew by area in which there was no majority (shown in more than 1.2 million, making it America’s fastest- yellow). growing large metropolitan area. Harris County’s Anglo population declined by another 6 percent during that decade, while the number of blacks grew by another 22 percent, Latinos by 49 percent and Asians by 45 percent. In 2010 the U.S. Census counted 4.1 million people in the county, of whom just 33 percent were non-Hispanic whites. Harris The Houston Area Asian Survey 7
  10. 10. Figure 2 — The Geographic Distribution of Harris County’s Ethnic Populations, from the U.S. Census of 1980 and of 2010Source: Outreach Strategists, LLC. By 2010 Harris County’s geography had changed areas. The continued “hypersegregation” of dramatically. The red areas (majority Anglo) are African Americans can be seen in the virtually now largely confined to the west of Downtown unchanged configuration of the “black corridor,” and the census tracts on the periphery of the and the “multicultural” tracts are now spreading county. The majority Latino tracts have expanded everywhere around the edges of the City of out to the north and east of Houston’s downtown Houston and beyond. “BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir.” Stafford, Texas. Photo by Jie Wu, January 2013. 8 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  11. 11. The Houston Numbers population grew the most rapidly of all, expanding by a remarkable 150 percent between 2000 and While Harris County was growing by 20 percent 2010; Sugar Land, its largest city, was 37 percent between 2000 and 2010, the surrounding counties Asian in 2010. grew even faster. Fort Bend County expanded by 65 percent in the past ten years, and Montgomery Montgomery County, the least diverse of the County by 55 percent. Most have also increased region’s five most populous counties, had a non- dramatically in diversity. As indicated in Figure 3, Hispanic white population of 88 percent in 1990 Fort Bend County in 1990 was less than 7 percent and 81 percent in 2000. During the past decade, Asian and almost 54 percent Anglo. By 2010 it was the county’s Anglo population grew by another 19 percent Asian, 24 percent Latino, 21 percent 36 percent, but it added more non-Anglos, so that African American and 36 percent Anglo, coming today the Montgomery County population is just closer than any other county in the United States 71 percent Anglo. The demographic revolution to having an equal division among the nation’s four is fully under way across the entire metropolitan major ethnic communities. The county’s Asian region. Figure 3 — The U.S. Census Figures for Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties in 1990, 2000 and 2010 700,000 Asians/Others Hispanics 600,000 19.0% Blacks Anglos 500,000 4.0% 23.7% 400,000 13.1% 20.8% 2.5% 4.1% 300,000 21.1% 21.1% 12.6% 6.5% 3.4% 200,000 19.6% 1.0% 71.2% 19.5% 7.3% 4.2% POPULATION 20.3% 81.4% 100,000 36.2% 46.2% 87.5% 53.8% 0 Fort Bend-1990 Fort Bend-2000 Fort Bend-2010 Montgomery-1990 Montgomery-2000 Montgomery-2010 (225,421) (354,452) (585,375) (182,201) (293,768) (455,746) Source: U.S. Census. Classifications based on Texas State Data Center conventions. The Houston Area Asian Survey 9
  12. 12. The GIS map depicted in Figure 4 shows the the Braeswood-to-Bellaire sector close to the Texasgeographical distribution of the Asian populations Medical Center, in the Clear Lake area in southeastin Harris and Fort Bend counties in 2010. The Harris County, in the Alief and Katy areas ofdark green areas indicate the census tracts where western Harris County, in the Cypress-Tomball areathe Asian population accounted for more than 20 in northwest Harris County, and in the Sugarpercent of the tract’s total population, the medium Land-Missouri City region of Fort Bend County.green color designates areas where the Asians were Note, however, that despite the rapid Asian growth12.5 to 20 percent of the population, and the light in Fort Bend County, in sheer numbers there aregreen represents the areas where Asians constituted more than 2.5 times as many Asians living in Harris8.0 to 12.5 percent. County as in Fort Bend: Asians constitute about 8 percent of Harris County’s 4 million inhabitants,As indicated in the map, the region’s Asian and 19 percent of Ford Bend County’s 500,000.populations are disproportionately concentrated inFigure 4 — The Geographic Distribution of the Asian Populations in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, from the U.S. Census of 2010Source: Outreach Strategists, LLC.10 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  13. 13. The Immigration Reform Act than 40 million, representing 13 percent of the total U.S. population. Immigrants from Latin America of 1965 that Changed America accounted for more than half (53 percent) of the foreign-born. Another 29 percent were from Asia, We need to stand back for a moment and ask 12 percent from Europe, 4 percent from Africa, and about the historical background for these dramatic 3 percent from everywhere else (Gryn and Gambino transformations in the ethnic composition of the 2012). The United States, which throughout all Houston area and – to only a slightly lesser extent of its history had been an amalgam of European – of Texas and throughout America. Between 1924 nationalities, is rapidly becoming a microcosm of the and 1965, under the notorious “National Origins world. Quota Act,” immigration into this country slowed to a trickle. Asians were effectively banned from coming In several of America’s largest cities, the “majority- to America, and explicit preference was accorded to minority” future is already here. Newly arriving Northern Europeans. With that legislation in effect, immigrants tend to cluster in a small number of 82 percent of all the immigrant visas issued during metropolitan areas, attracted by family and linguistic this period went to northwestern Europeans and 16 connections and benefiting greatly from the social percent were allocated to other Europeans, leaving 2 and economic support that co-ethnic communities percent for everyone else. provide. Over half of all the foreign-born residents in America live in four states – California, New York, In 1965, in the aftermath of the civil rights movement Texas and Florida. In the year 2000, two metropolitan and of Kennedy’s assassination, the Immigration and areas contained more than one-third of the entire Nationality Act Amendments (a.k.a. the “Hart-Celler foreign-born population in the United States Act”) finally undid the nation’s previous immigration (Waldinger 2001): 5.2 million foreign-born residents policy, with its explicitly racist assumptions, and were living in the New York City metropolitan region, opened immigration to the rest of the world for the and 5.1 million in the Los Angeles area. first time in the twentieth century. More generous limits were established, and visas were no longer These two “immigrant capitals” were followed by allocated on the basis of ethnicity or national origin. five smaller but important “gateway” cities – San Preferences were now to be based primarily on Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C., and family reunification, with additional priority given Houston. The new immigration spread next to Dallas, to immigrants with professional skills or proven Boston, San Diego and Phoenix, and is now reaching vulnerability to persecution. The act’s proponents into virtually every city and town across the nation. did not expect it to bring much change, either in the Nowhere has the demographic transformation been numbers of immigrants or in their composition, but more sudden or dramatic than in the Houston area. the effects were dramatic. The Asian surge. Table 1 presents the population Soon after the new law was enacted, the number of figures from the U.S. Census in 1990, 2000 and 2010 newcomers began to grow rapidly again, ending a for each of the major Asian communities in Harris fifty-year hiatus on large-scale immigration, and the County. In the latest census, 253,032 residents of European proportion fell precipitously. During the Harris County checked an Asian nationality on the 1990s and again in the first decade of this century, “race” question and an additional 27,309 checked more than 10 million immigrants came to America, “Asian” in combination with one or more other races, of whom only 12 percent were arriving from Europe. for a total of 280,341 Asian-origin residents. This More than 85 percent of the new immigration was represents an increase of more than 45 percent from now coming from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the the 193,059 Harris County Asians who were counted Caribbean. in the 2000 Census; and the 2000 figures represented a growth of 76 percent from the 1990 numbers. The 2011 American Community Study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the number of Among those who self-identified as only one Asian foreign-born residents in the United States at more nationality on the “race” question, the Vietnamese, The Houston Area Asian Survey 1 1
  14. 14. already the largest of Harris County’s Asian had slipped into third place, now numbering slightly communities, grew by another 45 percent between fewer than the region’s Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi 2000 and 2010, followed by the Filipinos (also at 45 population. percent), the Indians/Pakistanis (at 39 percent), the Koreans (35 percent), and the Chinese/Taiwanese In Fort Bend County, the 2010 Census counted (27 percent). The number of Asians coming from 106,263 Asians. Unlike in Harris County, the Indians other countries in the Far East and in Southeast Asia and Pakistanis, at 31 percent, are the largest of Fort (e.g., Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand) Bend’s Asian communities. Next come the Chinese and almost doubled during the past decade to reach a total Taiwanese, at 21 percent; the Vietnamese constitute of 40,684, representing 15 percent of all the Asians just 15 percent of all the Asians in Fort Bend County. currently living in Harris County. In 1980 the Chinese The Indians and Pakistanis were also the largest were the largest Asian community in the county. By population of Asians in Montgomery County, followed 1990 they trailed the Vietnamese, and by 2000 they by the Chinese and the Filipinos. Table 1 — Harris County’s Asian Populations in the U.S. Census of 1990, 2000 and 2010* These figures include the Asians who identified with more than one race.Source: U.S. Census 1990, 2000 and 2010, Demographic Profiles (www.census.gov). 12 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  15. 15. Conducting the Surveys African-American or Latino adult, but only four or five of every one hundred households will reach an Across 31 years of systematic survey research Asian. (1982-2012), the Kinder Institute’s Houston Area Survey has tracked America’s fourth largest city in In 1995, 2002, and 2011, with the generous support the self-conscious process of reinventing itself for of the wider Houston community, researchers at the twenty-first century. No other metropolitan Rice University were able, in conjunction with the region in the nation has been the focus of a annual Houston Area Survey, to dial the 60,000 or long-term study of this scope. None more clearly so randomly generated phone numbers required to exemplifies the remarkable trends that are rapidly identify a sufficient number of Asian households refashioning the social and political landscape to complete systematic telephone interviews with across all of urban America. representative samples of approximately 500 Asians across Harris County, with more than a quarter of In order to ensure that every Harris County the interviews conducted in the native languages. adult living in a household with a telephone (either landline or cell phone) will have an The Survey Research Institute (SRI) at the equal probability of being interviewed, survey University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public respondents are selected each year through a Policy conducted all the telephone interviews for two-stage procedure. In each household reached the expanded 2011 survey. Between February and by randomly generated telephone numbers, the May of 2011, a representative sample of 506 Harris eligible respondent is selected randomly from all County Asians participated in the interviews, along household members aged 18 or older, with initial with 511 Anglos, 502 African Americans and 501 preference given to an adult male. Using “back Latinos, with 65 percent of the respondents reached translation” and the reconciliation of discrepancies, by landline and 35 percent by cell phone. the questionnaire is translated into Spanish, and Of the 506 Asian interviews in the 2011 survey, bilingual interviewers are assigned to the project at 14 percent were conducted in Vietnamese, 4 all times. percent in Cantonese, 9 percent in Mandarin, and In 18 of the past 19 years (from 1994 through 2012; the rest in English. Presented in the Appendix the one exception was 1996), the surveys have at the end of this report are some of the most been expanded with supplementary interviews significant questions that were asked in the 2011 in Houston’s three largest ethnic communities. survey, organized by central themes, along with Using identical random-selection procedures, the distributions of responses to each question and terminating after the first few questions if given separately for the Asians, Anglos, African the respondent is not of the ethnic background Americans and Latinos who participated in the required, additional interviews were conducted study. in each of these years to enlarge and equalize the Figure 5 compares the countries of origin of the samples of Anglo, African-American and Hispanic survey participants in the three Asian surveys respondents at about 500 each per year. with the U.S. Census figures for the different Asian It is much more difficult to obtain large nationalities in the decennial census of 1990, 2000 representative samples from Houston’s Asian and 2010. As indicated in the figure (and as seen communities, because they still constitute a in Table 1), the distributions by country of origin relatively small proportion of the Houston among all the Harris County Asians in 2010 who population as a whole, and Asians are twice as named only one race on the census form were as likely as Anglos to be living with at least two adult follows: 32 percent said they were Vietnamese, 20 generations under the same roof (Pew 2012). One percent Indian or Pakistani, 17 percent Chinese or out of every two randomly selected households Taiwanese, 9 percent Filipino and 5 percent Korean. in Harris County can be expected to contain an The Houston Area Asian Survey 3 1
  16. 16. The distributions by country of origin among firm, to conduct a systematic “weighting” of thethe respondents who participated in the three data. The procedure uses all available informationsurveys combined were consistent with the census from the U.S. Census to correct for nonresponsefigures: 28 percent of the Asian respondents were and coverage biases in the samples. It assignsVietnamese, 25 percent were Indian or Pakistani, weights to each of the responses to ensure that26 percent were Chinese or Taiwanese, 8 percent the final distributions in the surveys are inwere Filipino and 4 percent were Korean. This close close agreement with the actual Harris Countycorrespondence with the census data strengthens distributions with respect to such parameters asconfidence in the representativeness of the survey race and ethnicity, age, gender, education level andsamples. The careful procedures that were followed home ownership. The slight corrections that resulthere can be expected to provide about as accurate a from this process will provide a more accuratepicture as it is possible to obtain through scientific and reliable reflection of the actual attitudes andsurvey research of the experiences and perspectives experiences to be found within the Harris Countyof Harris County’s varied Asian communities. population as a whole. Unless otherwise indicated, the results presented in this report are based on theTo further strengthen confidence in the survey weighted data.findings, we engaged Social Science ResearchSolutions (SSRS), the Philadelphia-based researchFigure 5 — Harris County’s Asian Populations by Country of Origin, in the U.S. Census and in the Three Asian Surveys Combined 40 Vietnamese Indians/Pakistanis Chinese/Taiwanese Filipinos Koreans Other Asians 32 32 30 28 28 26 25 23 PERCENT OF ASIAN POPULATION 21 19 20 20 20 17 17 14 14 10 10 10 9 9 8 6 5 5 4 0 Census 1990 (N=109,878) Census 2000 (N=174,626)* Census 2010 (N=253,032)* Asian Survey (1995, 2002 and 2011 combined) (N=1,506) *These figures do not include the Asians whowho identifiedmore than one race. race. *These figures do not include the Asians identified with with more than one14 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  17. 17. ETHNIC DIFFERENCES IN MIGRATION PATTERNS, AGE AND EDUCATION Through telephone interviews averaging more than as recorded in the most recent (2011) survey. The 20 minutes apiece, the three expanded surveys record differences among the populations reflect the a rich array of information on the respondents’ life interconnections of the two most consequential circumstances, attitudes and beliefs, as well as their demographic trends of our time — popularly known socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. as the “aging” and the “colorizing” (aka: the “graying” Table 2 compares the basic background variables and the “browning”) of the Houston and the across Houston’s four major ethnic communities, American populations. Table 2— Age and Migration Patterns in Four Ethnic Communities, from the 2011 Survey ASIANS ANGLOS BLACKS LATINOS (N=506) (N=511) (N=503) (N=502) 1. How old were 18 to 29 32.1% 16.8% 22.6% 35.2% you on your 30 to 49 33.6 37.8 36.7 40.7 last birthday? 50 to 93 34.3 45.4 40.8 24.2 2. For how many years 9 years or less 24.5% 18.8% 12.6% 16.8% have you lived in 10 to 19 years 34.4 18.4 16.0 27.7 the Houston area? 20 to 29 years 17.9 15.8 15.5 22.5 30 years or more 23.2 47.1 55.9 33.0 3. Where did you live just Born in Houston 22.7% 33.4% 49.7% 44.2% before coming to the Elsewhere in Texas 10.0 27.3 22.8 21.8 Houston area? Elsewhere in U.S. 30.0 35.3 23.3 11.7 Outside the U.S. 37.3 4.0 4.1 22.4 4. Where did you live Houston area 35.1% 47.1% 63.8% 58.6% when you were growing Elsewhere in Texas 4.1 19.9 15.5 11.9 up (i.e., when you were Elsewhere in U.S. 10.1 30.0 16.8 8.9 16 years old)? Outside the U.S. 50.7 3.1 3.9 20.6 5. Were you born in Yes 29.8% 94.7% 95.1% 68.2% the United States? No 70.2 5.3 4.9 31.8 6. Were both of your Yes, both of them 8.1% 91.6% 91.5% 37.8% parents born in the Only one of them 3.4 2.9 2.3 9.3 United States? No, neither of them 88.6 5.5 6.2 52.9 The Houston Area Asian Survey 5 1
  18. 18. Migration Patterns 2011 survey were first-generation immigrants. More than half (51 percent) grew up outsidein Four Communities the United States; and 37 percent immigrated to Houston directly from abroad, without havingThe data recorded in Table 2 reflect the patterns lived anywhere else in America. More than half (53of immigration that have transformed the ethnic percent) of all Hispanics and almost nine of everycomposition of the Houston area’s population. As ten Asians (89 percent) report that both of theirwe have seen, this was a city primarily of Anglo parents were born outside the United States.migrants during all the years of the oil boom. After1982, however, as the Anglo population stoppedexpanding and then declined, all the rapid growth Age and Ethnicity in Houstonof the Harris County population has been due As a direct consequence of these demographicto the influx of non-Anglos. The age differences changes, today’s seniors across America areamong the ethnic communities reflect these new predominantly Anglos. This is also the case for therealities. 76 million American babies who were born duringMore than 45 percent of all the Anglo respondents the remarkable postwar period of broad-basedin the 2011 survey were aged 50 or older at the economic expansion, between 1946 and 1964.time of the interviews, compared to 41 percent The average American male literally doubled hisof blacks, 34 percent of Asians and 24 percent income in real terms during that “postwar quarter-of Latinos. At the other end of the spectrum, 35 century” (1946-1971), while the average Americanpercent of all Hispanic adults and 32 percent of the female in the years between 1946 and 1964 wasAsians were under the age of 30 at the time of the giving birth to 3.6 children. In 2012 the leadinginterviews, but this was the case for less than 17 edge of the 76 million members of the baby-percent of the Anglos. boom generation were now 66 years old. Over the course of the next 25 to 30 years, the number ofBlack Houstonians are more likely than area Americans over the age of 65 will literally double.residents of other ethnicities to have been born That bulging population is disproportionatelyor raised in the Houston area: 64 percent of the composed of non-Latino whites, because it wasAfrican-American respondents report that they not until 1965, after the baby boom had subsided,grew up in this region, compared to 59 percent of when for the first time in the twentieth centuryLatinos, 47 percent of Anglos, and just 35 percent non-Europeans were allowed in any meaningfulof the Asians. The U.S.-born members of the two numbers to come to America.predominantly immigrant communities, however,are the most likely of all area residents to be Younger adults, of course, are more likely thanHouston born and bred. The surveys reveal (not older individuals to brave the difficult immigrantshown in the table) that 69 percent of all U.S.-born journey in pursuit of better opportunities forAsian Houstonians and 74 percent of the U.S.-born themselves and their children. Inevitably, theLatinos grew up in the Houston area. younger cohorts who will replace the baby-boom generation are far more likely to be Asian, blackHispanics, of course, were living in the Houston or Latino. The “aging of America” is turning outregion well before the city was founded in 1836 to be a division not only by generation, but also by(De Leon 1989). Yet almost one-third (32 percent) ethnic background. The new realities are reflectedof all the Hispanic respondents in the 2011 survey in Figure 6. The 2010 Census counted 333,487were first-generation immigrants, having been Harris County residents who were aged 65 orborn outside the United States. Table 2 indicates older, among whom a clear majority (57 percent)further that 21 percent of them grew up outside were Anglos; fewer than a fifth were AfricanAmerica and came to Houston after the age of 16. Americans or Hispanics (at 17 and 19 percent,Even more striking, 70 percent of all the Asian respectively), and 7 percent were Asians.adults in Harris County who participated in the16 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  19. 19. The median age of the Harris County population likely to be living in poverty – 80 percent of all as a whole is a youthful 33.2, among the youngest HISD students qualify for free or reduced-price of the nation’s major metropolitan areas. Of all lunch programs – and these are the families that area residents in 2010 who were aged eighteen have been the least well served historically by the to twenty-nine, 46 percent were Hispanics and city’s educational institutions and its social-service 28 percent were Anglos. Among the more than delivery systems. one million children under the age of 18, more than half (51 percent) were Latinos, and less than Clearly, if the socioeconomic and educational a quarter (24 percent) were Anglos. Even more disparities with Anglos and Asians are not striking is the ethnic composition of the students reduced, if too many of Houston’s economically in HISD classrooms. According to the web site of disadvantaged young people are unprepared to the Houston Independent School District (www. succeed in the high-tech, knowledge economy houstonisd.org), 203,066 students were enrolled of the twenty-first century, it is difficult to during 2011-2012 in the 279 schools that comprise envision a prosperous future for the region as a the district. In all these schools, in classes from whole. On the other hand, if the education and kindergarten through senior year in high school, income gaps can be bridged, Houston will be in 62 percent of the students were Latinos, 25 percent a position to capitalize fully on the advantages of were African Americans, 8 percent were non- having a young, multi-cultural and multi-lingual Hispanic whites and 3 percent were Asians. workforce, able to help build the bridges to the global marketplace, and this major port city will be Almost nine of every ten children in HISD schools well positioned for competitive success in the new (87 percent) are African American and Latino. economy. These are the two groups that are by far the most Figure 6 — Ethnicity by Age in Harris County, from the U.S. Census of 2010 70 Anglos Blacks Hispanics Asians/Others 60 57 51 50 47 46 43 40 31 30 27 28 PERCENT BY AGE GROUP 24 19 19 18 19 19 20 17 10 7 7 8 7 5 0 AGES 65+ (N=333,487) AGES 47-64 AGES 30-46 AGES 18-29 AGES 0-17 (N=785,457) (N=960,450) (N=638,036) (N=1,147,835) The Houston Area Asian Survey 7 1
  20. 20. A Bifurcated Immigration counterparts, but much lower levels than the Anglos or Asians: 22 percent of the African-American into a Bifurcated Economy adults in the Houston area do not have high school diplomas, and just 19 percent are college-educated. The current immigration differs from all previous immigrant streams in American history, not only In sharp contrast, a remarkable 59 percent of all in its predominantly non-European origins, but the Houston-area Asian immigrants have college also in its striking socioeconomic disparities. One or postgraduate degrees. Only 37 percent of the group of immigrants (mostly from Asia and Africa) U.S.-born Anglos in Harris County are college- is coming to Houston and America with higher educated. In the 2011 survey, the respondents levels of educational credentials and professional who were employed were asked to describe their skills than ever before in the history of American occupations. More than four out of ten Asian immigration. Another, larger group (mostly immigrants (45 percent) said they were working Hispanic) is arriving with major educational deficits in professional or managerial positions and 48 relative to the rest of the American population. percent were employed in the technical, sales, or service industries. Only 7 percent of the Asian As shown in Figure 7, fully 59 percent of all Latino immigrants in 2011 were working in low-skilled immigrants in Harris County have not completed occupations. In contrast, fully 27 percent of all high school. Only 7 percent have college degrees. Latino immigrants were employed as construction The comparable figures for Houston’s American- workers, machine operators, truck drivers, or in born Latinos are 26 percent without high school other low-level production or service jobs. diplomas and 13 percent with college degrees or more. The U.S.-born African Americans have slightly higher levels of education than their Latino FIGURE 7 Figure 7 — Distributions by Education in Five Communities, from the 2002-2012 Surveys Combined 70 Less than H.S. H.S. diploma 59 60 Some college College degree 50 Post-graduate 40 35 32 31 32PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS 30 29 28 26 24 24 22 22 22 23 20 14 13 13 12 9 10 10 5 6 5 3 2 0 Asian Immigrants US-born Anglos US-born Blacks US-born Latinos Latino Immigrants (N=976) (N=5,354) (N=5,214) (N=3,298) (N=2,125) 18 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  21. 21. The “Model Minority” Myth the newcomers from Mexico, Central America or Southeast Asia? The success that so many Asian immigrants have achieved in America has given rise to the myth The answer, in large part, is that the restrictive of the “model minority.” This widely held image immigration laws before reform in 1965 declared is built on the assumption that today’s Asians are Asians to be “inassimilable aliens.” Asians were much like the European peasants who came to this effectively banned from coming to this country, country during the great “third wave” of immigration and Africans were never allowed before 1965 to between 1890 and 1914. As was the case with these immigrate freely. As a result, once the laws were earlier immigrants, Asians are thought to have changed, entry into America through family arrived in America with little money and few skills. reunification was unavailable to these potential If they have succeeded, it must therefore be solely immigrants – although it would be the primary by virtue of their hard work, high intelligence and avenue of legal immigration for Mexican nationals. strong family values. These assumptions are often The only other ways to be eligible for preferential taken as additional confirmation that America is still access after 1965 were by virtue of refugee status (e.g., a land of equal opportunity for all. Hence, at least the Vietnamese), by qualifying as “professionals of by implication if not explicitly, if blacks and Latinos exceptional ability” (e.g., most of the Indians and have not attained equal success they have only Pakistanis, Chinese and Taiwanese, Nigerians and themselves to blame. other Africans), or by having occupational skills The data depicted in Figure 7 make it clear, however, that were sorely needed and in demonstrably short that Asians have been relatively successful in supply in the United States (e.g., Filipino nurses). Houston and America mainly because they come The unprecedented socioeconomic disparities among from families in their countries of origin whose today’s immigrant communities reflect the history of educational and occupational attainments far exceed American immigration policy. the average for U.S.-born Anglos. When asked in the 1995 and 2002 surveys what occupation their fathers had when they themselves were 16 years old, four out of ten Asian respondents (39 percent) said their fathers were doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, corporate executives or other professionals. This was true for a third of the Anglos (32 percent), for 17 percent of African Americans, and 12 percent of Latinos. Only 22 percent of all the Asians in 1995 and 2002 said their fathers were employed in low- paying production jobs or worked as agricultural or day laborers, but this was the case for 45 percent of Anglos, 63 percent of blacks and 74 percent of Latinos. The immigrants from Africa (mostly Nigeria and Ghana) have been coming to Houston and America with educational levels as high as those of the Asians. Fully one-half (51 percent) of all the African immigrants reached in the expanded Houston surveys (1994-2012) had college degrees, and 21 “Betty Yeh, a young girl at a classroom gathering of the Institute of Chinese Culture, Houston, percent of them had postgraduate educations. Why Texas. May 1982.” Photographer, T. Wong. Gene are the immigrants from Africa and from most of & Hedy Lee Chinese language newspapers & Asia coming to America with levels of education and photographs, 1976-1985 (MS 556), Woodson professional credentials that are so much higher than Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. The Houston Area Asian Survey 9 1
  22. 22. DIFFERENCES IN LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES AMONG THE ASIAN COMMUNITIES Figure 8 shows that the high levels of educational immigrants, the Vietnamese (60 percent of whom achievement among Asians in general mask are males) came as refugees. They fled to this country important differences by country of origin. The after the fall of Saigon in 1975 as part of the largest contrasts have much to do with the different refugee resettlement program in American history. pathways to legal immigration that were available Like most refugee communities in the United States to the varied Asian communities. Thus of all the (the Cubans in Miami are a prime example), they Filipinos who participated in the three Asian came in at least two waves. Most of the early arrivals surveys, 64 percent were women. The data suggest were highly educated professionals, politicians, that most of them were trained in American-based or military officers who had served in the former nursing schools in the Philippines and came here American-backed governments in Vietnam. Many primarily under the occupational provisions of more of the Vietnamese came here in the 1980s and the 1965 Immigration Reform Act and the 1989 1990s with little formal education and few resources, Immigration Nursing Relief Act — conspicuously having survived horrible conditions in refugee camps for jobs as health technicians and nurses in the and terrifying voyages across the seas. many Houston-area hospitals. Hence, it is not surprising to see in Figure 8 a Unlike most of the other post-1965 Asian far greater variability in educational attainment Figure 8 — Distributions by Education among the Four Largest Asian Communities, from the Three Surveys Combined 60 Less than H.S. H.S. diploma 50 50 Some college College degree Post-graduate 40 38 33 30 30 29 26 25PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS 24 24 20 20 17 17 14 15 12 11 10 6 4 4 2 0 Vietnamese (N=390) Chinese/Taiwanese (N=373) Indians/Pakistanis (N=348) Filipinos (N=108) 20 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  23. 23. among the Vietnamese than in the other Asian Clearly, many Vietnamese are having a difficult time communities. More than 20 percent of the in the Houston area, and they may be less likely to Vietnamese in the three Asian surveys combined do receive the help they need, in a language they can not have high school diplomas, compared to just 10 understand, from a wider community that continues percent of all Asians in Houston. Only 30 percent of to believe that all the Asians are doing fine. the Vietnamese have college or professional degrees, but this is the case for more than 50 percent of all the Income Differences Asians. As seen in Figure 8, a remarkable 71 percent of the Indians and Pakistanis have college degrees, among the Asians as do 67 percent of the Filipinos — although the Because education is so critical to economic success Indians and the Chinese are much more likely than in today’s high-technology knowledge-based the Filipinos to have post-graduate degrees. economy, it is not surprising to find corresponding The surveys indicate further that only 12 percent differences in household income among Houston’s of all the Asian respondents were in low-paid Asian-American communities. As indicated in production or day-labor jobs; but this was the case Figure 9, the Indians/Pakistanis report the highest for 26 percent of the Vietnamese. The latter were also incomes, with 36 percent living in households the most likely of all the Asians to have completed making $75,000 or more; 29 percent of the Chinese/ the surveys in their native language rather than Taiwanese and 28 percent of Filipinos also report English, to have no health insurance, and to report household incomes in excess of $75,000. that they had a problem in the past year buying the groceries they needed to feed their families. Figure 9 — Distributions by Household Income among the Four Largest Asian Communities, from the Three Surveys Combined 40 Less than $15,000 36 $15,001-25,000 $25,001-35,000 30 $35,001-50,000 29 28 28 $50,001-75,000 More than $75,000 22 21 21 20 20 18 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS 16 16 16 15 13 13 13 13 11 11 10 10 10 10 6 6 0 Vietnamese (N=287) Chinese/Taiwanese Indians/Pakistanis (N=264) Filipinos (N=84) (N=263) The Houston Area Asian Survey 1 2
  24. 24. A clear majority of the Filipinos (56 percent) and The Primary Reasons the Indians/Pakistanis (57 percent) report incomes above $50,000, but this is true for just a third of for Coming to America the Vietnamese families. Among the Chinese/ The Asians have come from different backgrounds Taiwanese, nearly half (45 percent) report incomes and for divergent reasons. When asked what it was above $50,000, but more than a third (39 percent) that brought them or their parents to this country, also say their household income is less than $35,000. Figure 10 indicates that fully 56 percent of the The Filipinos and Indians are the most educated Vietnamese respondents said they immigrated among Houston’s Asian communities, and they because of political persecution, as a result of war, or are the most likely to be fluent in English, so it is in search of freedom. Only 11 percent of the Chinese not surprising that the two groups also report the gave political reasons of this sort, and virtually none highest household incomes. of the Indians/Pakistanis or Filipinos did so. At the other end of the spectrum, nearly one-half The Filipinos said they came overwhelmingly of all Vietnamese families (47 percent) report in pursuit of work opportunities; they were also household incomes of less than $35,000 annually. somewhat more likely than the other groups to cite Almost one fifth (18 percent) have annual incomes marriage or family reasons for immigrating. Both of less than $15,000. These vast socioeconomic the Chinese/Taiwanese and the Indians/Pakistanis differences should call into further question any gave reasons of education and work in roughly equal monolithic image of all the Asians as a universally proportions, although the Chinese were more likely successful “model minority” in America. Large to say they came for education, and the Indians segments of the Asian population are far from more often cited job opportunities. prosperous. Figure 10 — The Most Important Reasons Given for Immigrating to America among the Four Largest Asian Communities, from the Three Surveys Combined 70 Economic hardship, Work opportunities Education 60 56 56 War, Politics, Freedom Relatives, Marriage 50 Other reasons 40 40 35 36PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS 30 28 20 20 20 17 17 11 11 12 12 10 8 9 6 5 1 0 0 Vietnamese (N=377) Chinese/Taiwanese Indians/Pakistanis (N=335) Filipinos (N=105) (N=335) 22 Kinder Institute for Urban Research
  25. 25. Still a “Glass Ceiling”? that four or more people were living in their households; just 26 percent were in households with Besides the income differences among Harris only one or two persons. Among Anglos, in contrast, County’s Asian communities, the surveys point to only 28 percent were in households with four or something else as well. Figure 11 compares the levels more people, and 52 percent lived alone or with just of educational attainment and of household income one other person. among all the Anglo and Asian respondents in the combined 1995, 2002, and 2011 surveys. Despite Asian Americans in Houston are as likely as Anglos levels of education that are considerably higher than to be employed in professional or managerial those of most Anglos – 51 percent of all Asians (both positions (39 and 40 percent), but they earn less and immigrant and U.S.-born) have college degrees, report considerably lower household incomes. Some compared to just 36 percent of the non-Hispanic part of this discrepancy is surely a consequence whites – Asians report much lower family incomes. of Asians being younger and at an earlier stage in their careers, and of having arrived as immigrants Only 28 percent of the Asians, compared to 36 with educational credentials that may be difficult to percent of Anglos, said their total household incomes transfer into a new society. Part of the disparity may exceeded $75,000. The surveys also reveal that Asians also reflect the impact of continuing discrimination. are significantly less likely than Anglos to have health The so-called “glass ceiling,” through which Asian insurance (77 vs. 88 percent), to own their own professionals can see the top management positions homes (69 vs. 73 percent), or to live in the suburbs in both private and public institutions but are unable (46 vs. 64 percent). The differences loom even larger to reach them, has been documented in studies when family size is taken into account. More than across the country (Fong 2008). Asian Americans half (53 percent) of the Asian respondents indicated may well face continuing structural barriers that Figure 11 — Distributions by Education and Income among Anglos and Asians in Harris County, from the Three Surveys Combined 60 60 High school or less $35,000 or less 51 Some college $35,001 to $75,000 50 50 College degree More than $75,000 40 40 36 36 36 36 35 32 33 30 30 29 28 27 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS 22 20 20 10 10 0 0 Anglos (N=1,459) Asians (N=1,502) Anglos (N=1,188) Asians (N=1,100) The Houston Area Asian Survey 3 2
  26. 26. prevent them from earning salaries equivalent to Ethnic Divides in Perspectives those that Anglos receive. on Immigration and Intergroup In sum, any reliable analysis of the Asian-American experience needs to be contextualized. The Relations stereotype of the “model minority” overlooks the The 31 years of the Kinder Institute’s annual class advantages enjoyed by the high proportion of Houston Area Survey have shown that positive Asian immigrants who come from upper-middle- views among area residents in general have been class families in their countries of origin, and it gradually, unevenly, but consistently increasing diverts attention from continuing discrimination. It when respondents are asked to evaluate Houston’s also lumps together into a single image individuals burgeoning diversity and its growing immigrant from 27 different nationalities, who speak different populations. Not everyone, of course, is equally languages, follow different religious and cultural enthusiastic about the arrival of so many newcomers. traditions, and came to America under contrasting Figure 12 illustrates the basic pattern of intergroup circumstances, for divergent reasons, and with vastly differences in attitudes toward immigration and different resources. Above all, the “model minority” ethnic diversity. myth glosses over the fact many Asian Americans are far from prosperous, and it makes it less likely that Not surprisingly, Latinos (more than half of whom Asians in need will be offered the help that others are themselves immigrants) and Asians (three- receive. quarters of whom are immigrants) express far more positive views toward the new immigration Figure 12 — Distributions by Beliefs about Immigration and Ethnic Diversity among the Four Major Ethnic Communities, from the 1994-2012 Surveys Combined 100 Anglos Blacks Latinos Asians 90 90 80 80 78 77 74 74 71 71 69 68 67 69 70 65 66 60 57 52 49 50 45 43 45 40 35PERCENT AGREEING 33 34 30 26 20 10 0 Admit more or same The increasing Against imposing The increasing The increasing Immigrants number of legal immigration "mostly fines on employers ethnic diversity diversity will contribute more to immigrants in next strengthens" who hire illegal brought about by eventually become American economy ten years. American culture. immigrants. immigration is a source of great than they take. "good thing." strength. 24 Kinder Institute for Urban Research

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