Trends in Socioeconomic Achievement among Immigrant and Native-Born Asian-Americans, 1960–1976*


  • *

    A revised version of a paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Population Association of America, Denver, Colorado, April 10–12, 1980. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (1 RO1 14337–01) and a Duke University Biomedical Research Support Grant. The authors thank Ronald Rindfuss and Scott Grosse for comments on an earlier draft and Teresa Dark for typing the manuscript.

Charles Hirschman's address is Department of Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


The first waves of Asian immigration to the United States were halted by exclusionary and racist legislation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With the reforms of the 1965 Immigration Act, there has been a resurgence of immigration from Asia. This study analyzes changes in the socioeconomic composition of immigrant and native-born Asian-Americans (Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos) from 1960 to 1976. The educational levels of all Asian groups, immigrant and native-born, have equaled or exceeded those of whites in recent years. Asians are more likely to be found in professional occupations than are whites, although there is also a concentration of immigrant Chinese and Filipinos in service occupations and the retailtrade sector. Native-born Asian-Americans have reached parity with whites in terms of average earnings, though immigrant Asians remain far behind. The findings are discussed in light of the changing structural conditions and opportunities of Asians in American society.