1 in 10 Asian Americans live in poverty, study reveals

1 in 10 Asian Americans live in poverty, study reveals
via christopher catbagan on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
17 days ago
A new report from the Pew Research Center (PRC) revealed that about one in 10 Asian Americans live in poverty. 
Key points:
  • While Asian Americans may often be portrayed as economically and educationally successful, the PRC highlighted that approximately 2.3 million out of the 24 million Asians residing in the U.S. are living in poverty. Moreover, Asian Americans also have the most income inequality of any major racial or ethnic group in the country.
  • In February 2023, PRC conducted focus groups and surveys to understand the diverse experiences of Asian Americans living in poverty.
The details:
  • The think tank conducted 18 focus groups with 144 adult participants from 11 Asian origin groups across the U.S., including those experiencing economic hardship. These focus groups, along with survey results from July 2022 to January 2023, highlighted common themes such as day-to-day financial struggles, misconceptions about Asians not needing help and the significance of financial security in pursuing the American dream.
  • Participants were asked about various financial difficulties they experienced in the past year, including relying on food banks or charitable organizations, losing health insurance, struggling with rent or mortgage payments, facing difficulties paying for medical care, encountering bill payment issues and being unable to save money for emergencies.
  • About eight in 10 adults near or below the poverty line (79%) experienced at least one of these financial challenges in the past year. The most common difficulty is the inability to save for emergencies, reported by 57% of Asian adults living in poverty, compared to 40% above the poverty line.
Highest poverty rates: 
  • Burmese, Hmong, and Mongolian Americans have some of the highest poverty rates, with 17% of Hmong Americans and 16% of Mongolian Americans living at or below the poverty line. 
  • Poverty rates range between 10% and 13% for Korean, Malaysian, Laotian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Cambodian groups. Nepalese, Japanese, Sri Lankan and Filipino American groups have poverty rates between 6% and 9%. 
  • Additionally, a Pew analysis of the 2022 American Community Survey reveals that 26% of all Asians living below the poverty line are concentrated in major cities such as New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with high poverty rates also observed in Fresno, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
  • The results also indicated that Asian Americans’ experiences with economic hardship vary based on their place of birth, with immigrants facing additional challenges such as language barriers and adapting to a new environment. 
Poverty assistance and education: 
  • The PRC study revealed that when Asian adults living in poverty require assistance with bills, housing, food or job searching, approximately six in 10 (61%) turn to family or friends for support. Some focus group participants noted that government programs were difficult to access due to language barriers. 
  • While foreign-born participants often viewed education as essential for escaping poverty, U.S.-born individuals expressed doubt about the notion, emphasizing the importance of the type of education received. Participants highlighted the significance of networking and financial literacy alongside education in achieving success in the U.S.
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