While Asian Americans may be poised to become the wealthiest ethnicity in the U.S., there still exists a growing economic inequality within the group.
A new report by the Center for American Progress reveals that the inequality is far greater than that among white Americans.
According to economists Christian Weller and Jeffrey Thompson, the data on Asian American wealth is a mix of good and bad news. While it is true that rich Asian Americans are wealthier than rich whites, Asian Americans at the bottom of the income distribution have less wealth than whites in a similar position.
Asian Americans also have less retirement benefits, lower homeownership rates and owe more debt than whites.
Weller and Thompson argued that setting one’s eyes only on average and median wealth for all Asian Americans, which became relatively close to those of whites, blurs the reality that wealth is unequally distributed. For instance, from 2010 to 2013, those at the top 10% had 168.4 times more wealth than the bottom 20% — that’s $1,448,118 to $9,319.
In comparison, the top 10% of whites had 121.3 more wealth than the bottom 20% ($1,260,430 to $10,468) — undoubtedly a lower difference.
Apparently, this inequality among Asian Americans has been on the rise for some time. Between 1992 and 1998, middle class Asian Americans had 6.6 times more wealth than the bottom 20% ($97,163 to $8,461). Years later, between 2010 and 2013, the gap was 11.8 times.
In a nutshell, it appears that Asian Americans are more economically diverse than popular idea.
The researchers assumed that the striking inequality was most likely caused by a combination of demographic differences, including age and geographic distribution, and economic factors, including high wages and access to quality employment.