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Despite population clout, Asian-Americans lag in political participation




Volunteers at a phone bank organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles are trying to reach voters in 17 different languages.
Volunteers at a phone bank organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles are trying to reach voters in 17 different languages.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

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Asian-Americans make up the fastest growing demographic in the U.S., but Asian-American representatives are a minority in state and national legislatures.

Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke about the disparity with  Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of Public Policy at the University of California Riverside and director of the National Asian-American Survey.

According to Ramakrishnan, Asian-Americans make up roughly 15 percent of California's population, but only one in 10 vote. He says one reason for low voter turnout is that many are foreign-born.

"That makes a difference," says Ramakrishnan. "It is much more likely that if someone was born and raised in the United States to be socialized into thinking about the party system."

When it comes to a career in public service, Ramakrishnan says that some Asian populations are more likely to see professions like medicine, engineering and business as more prestigious pursuits.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.