The Pew Research Center survey and accompanying report says Asian-Americans now make up 5.8 percent of the nation’s population, up from less than 1 percent in 1965, when the modern immigration wave from Asia began.
Asians recently passed Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrants to the U.S. In 2010, 36 percent of new immigrants to the U.S. were Asian, up from 19 percent in 2000, according to Census figures.
The Pew report, titled “The Rise of Asian Americans,” finds that Asians are the highest-income and best-educated racial group in the U.S. Nearly half (49 percent) of Asian-American adults have a college degree, and they boast a median annual household income of $66,000 (versus the U.S. median of $49,800).
The survey says Asian-Americans are more satisfied than the general public with their lives overall (82 percent vs. 75 percent), their personal finances (51 percent vs. 35 percent) and the general direction of the country (43 percent vs. 21 percent). Even on a wide range of dimensions, Asian-Americans say conditions in the U.S. are better than those in their country of origin; a large majority say if they had to do it all over again they would still come to America.
The educational credentials of these recent arrivals are striking. More than six-in-ten (61%) adults ages 25 to 64 who have come from Asia in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is double the share among recent non-Asian arrivals, and almost surely makes the recent Asian arrivals the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in U.S. history.
Compared with the educational attainment of the population in their country of origin, recent Asian immigrants also stand out as a select group. For example, about 27% of adults ages 25 to 64 in South Korea and 25% in Japan have a bachelor’s degree or more. In contrast, nearly 70% of comparably aged recent immigrants from these two countries have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Recent Asian immigrants are also about three times as likely as recent immigrants from other parts of the world to receive their green cards—or permanent resident status—on the basis of employer rather than family sponsorship (though family reunification remains the most common legal gateway to the U.S. for Asian immigrants, as it is for all immigrants).
The modern immigration wave from Asia is nearly a half century old and has pushed the total population of Asian Americans—foreign born and U.S born, adults and children—to a record 18.2 million in 2011, or 5.8% of the total U.S. population, up from less than 1% in 1965.3 By comparison, non-Hispanic whites are 197.5 million and 63.3%, Hispanics 52.0 million and 16.7% and non-Hispanic blacks 38.3 million and 12.3%.
The immigration wave from Asia has occurred at a time when the largest sending countries have experienced dramatic gains in their standards of living. But few Asian immigrants are looking over their shoulders with regret. Just 12% say that if they had to do it all over again, they would remain in their country of origin. And by lopsided margins, Asian Americans say the U.S. is preferable to their country of origin in such realms as providing economic opportunity, political and religious freedoms, and good conditions for raising children. Respondents rated their country of origin as being superior on just one of seven measures tested in the survey—strength of family ties.
Bottom line, Asian immigrants are finding a rise in coming to the U.S. and being more satisfied being in the U.S. The actual study can be found here at the Pew Study