The Madeleine Brand Show for June 19, 2012

New Pew study highlights the rise, and attitudes, of Asian-Americans

Napolitano Presides Over Naturalization Ceremony In Washington

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New citizens are sworn in during a naturalization ceremony at Department of Interior September 23, 2011 in Washington, DC. About 50 new immigrants from 29 countries participated in the naturalization ceremony to become new U.S. citizens.

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, Asians now surpass Hispanics in new immigrant arrivals. Hispanic immigration dropped more than 30 percent while Asian immigration increased 10 percent.

The recent Pew study also highlighted key differences between Asians and other ethnic groups in the U.S. For example, Asian-Americans as a group place a higher value on marriage and parenthood than the U.S. population as a whole. And almost 40 percent of respondents said that Asian parents put too much pressure on their children, from getting married to performing well in school.

Asians also lead population groups in college graduates and household income. Their median income was more than $80,000 a year, compared to about $68,000 for the general population. Almost half of Asian-Americans hold some a college degree, as compared with only 29 percent for the general population.

"Relative to the general population, more satisfied with their lives and economic circumstances. This is a higher educated and higher income race group relative to the other race groups in the United States. So some of that plays out there," Pew's Kerri Funk said.

But Ali Wong, actress and comedian who talks about life as an Asian-American in her stand-up, says the report paints all Asian-Americans with too broad a brush. She feels like the picture of prosperity painted by this report could rub some people the wrong way.

"I don't really like studies like this because they reinforce the idea that if you're in a whatever sort of dissatisfied economic state that you're in, it's your fault and it's your responsibility to pull yourself by your bootstraps because look at all these recently-arrived immigrants who achieved so much in a short time, and they weren't even born here," Wong said.

Wong also explains that not all Asian ethnic groups are prospering. "I'm half-Chinese and half-Vietnamese so I always joke that I'm half-fancy-Asian and half jungle-Asians. Studies like this kind of speak more to the fancy Asian side because [for] the southeast Asian community, it doesn't really comply with a lot of these results and these studies. They're not doing as well as Japanese or Chinese Americans."


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