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Report Details Education and Income of Asian-Americans

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WASHINGTON--Adult Americans from Asia and the Pacific Islands are nearly twice as likely as whites to have completed four years of college, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau that is the first by the bureau to focus specifically on that group.

A survey issued by the bureau this month found that nearly 40 percent of Americans of Asian or Pacific Island origin who were age 25 or over had completed four or more years of college in 1991. That compares with just 22 percent of whites in that age group.

Slightly more Asian-Americans than whites in that age group had completed high school--82 percent, compared with 80 percent.

But Asians and Pacific Islanders continue to earn less money than white Americans with comparable educations, the report points out.

"Asian and Pacific Islanders who had completed high school and worked full time, year round had earnings of $19,290, compared with earnings of $22,050 for whites with similar education,'' a statement from the bureau says.

Asians and Pacific Islanders with four or more years of college reported median annual earnings of $34,470, compared with $36,130 for whites.

The report, "The Asian and Pacific Islander Population in the United States: March 1991 and 1990,'' looks at a group that numbers just over seven million and constitutes 3 percent of the nation's total population.

Effects of Past Immigration

Claudette Bennett, the report's author, suggested that the findings of high educational-attainment levels for Asians and Pacific Islanders may be explained, in part, by the fact many past immigrants from the ethnic groups that make up that population tended to be highly educated.

Immigration, the report notes, has been an important factor in the Asian and Pacific Islander population's growth, representing about 70 percent of the group's increase in size during the past decade.

In educational attainment, other minority groups lagged further behind Asians than did whites. Just 11.5 percent of blacks and 9.7 percent of Hispanics ages 25 or older had completed four or more years of higher education as of the period studied.

About 67 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics in that age group had completed high school, according to census reports.

Second Study

A separate study, released by the bureau late last week, notes, however, that young black adults appear to have made significant progress in high-school-completion rates.

The second study, which is also based on 1991 data but focuses little on education, found that 82 percent of blacks between the ages of 25 and 34 had completed at least high school, up from 75 percent in 1980.

Ms. Bennett, in releasing the report on Asians and Pacific Islanders, cautioned that the population covered by those categories is highly heterogeneous. Educational attainment varies considerably between different groups, especially when Chinese or Japanese, who often have been in the United States for several generations, are compared with more recent arrivals, such as Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong.

About six in 10 Americans of Asian or Pacific Islander descent live in the West, the report notes, and they are more likely than whites to reside in metropolitan areas and their central cities.

Among other findings, the report says that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders surveyed:

  • Were more likely than whites to live in poverty, with 11 percent falling below the poverty line, compared with 8 percent of whites.
  • Had higher median family incomes than whites--$42,240, compared with $36,910--but had lower per-capita incomes due to the fact their families tended to be larger. Seventy-four percent had families consisting of three or more persons, compared with 57 percent of whites with families that size.
  • Were more likely, as children, to be living in two-parent families than were other groups, including whites.

Copies of the report on Asians and Pacific Islanders (P-20, No. 459) are available for $7 each, prepaid, from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402; stock number 803-005-00060-5.

Copies of "The Black Population in the United States: March 1991'' are expected to be available from the printing office by late October.

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