Key Facts About Asian Origin Groups in the U.S.

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing major racial or ethnic group in the United States. More than 20 million Asians live in the U.S., and almost all trace their roots to 19 origin groups from East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Significant differences exist by income, education and other characteristics among the nation’s largest 19 Asian origin groups. These differences have been central to debatesabout how much data governments, colleges and other groups should collect about Asian origin groups, and whether it should be used to shape policies.

Here are some key differences between Asian origin groups in the U.S. and how they compare with Asian Americans overall.

1 . Six origin groups – Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese – accounted for 85% of all Asian Americans as of 2015. These groups together largely shape the overall demographic characteristics of Asian Americans. The remaining 13 origin groups each made up 2% or less of the nation’s Asian population. These groups have a variety of characteristics that can differ greatly from the largest groups.

2 About half of Asians in the U.S. ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or more in 2015, ahigher share than other races and ethnicities, but this share varies greatly by origin group. Those of Indian, Malaysian or Mongolian origin, for example, were more likely than other Asian origin groups to have at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, fewer than 20% of Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians and Bhutanese had a bachelor’s degree or more. Roughly a third of all Americans ages 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or more.

The differences in educational attainment among origin groups in part reflect the levels of education immigrants bring to the U.S. For example, 72% of U.S. Indians had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015. Many of them already had a bachelor’s degree when they arrived in the U.S. with a visa for high-skilled workers, such as an H-1B visa. Half of H-1B visas, which require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, have gone to Indians since 2001.

BY ABBY BUDIMAN, ANTHONY CILLUFFO AND NEIL G. RUIZ for FACT TANK

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