Pew Research Center surveyed thousands of Asian adults in the United States to explore their views on several topics, such as identity and how connected they are with other Asian ethnicities.
The study, titled “Diverse Cultures and Shared Experiences Shape Asian American Identities,” is part of the Washington, DC-based think tank’s “multiyear, comprehensive, in-depth quantitative and qualitative research effort” focused on Asians in the U.S.
The study, for which responses were collected from July 5, 2022, to Jan. 27, 2023, surveyed 7,006 Asian adults in the country. Participants were “U.S. adults who self-identify as Asian, either alone or in combination with other races or Hispanic ethnicity.”
The majority of the respondents were from the five largest Asian American origin groups: Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese and Indian. Pew Research Center also found a large enough population of Asian adults who identified as Japanese to report under their own category. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of the 2021 American Community Survey (ACS), those six groups make up about 81% of all U.S. Asian adults.
Also represented in the report are those who identified with less populous Asian origin groups, notably those of Burmese, Hmong or Pakistani descent, to name a few. According to ACS data, about 7% of the U.S. population are Asian Americans with roots originating from more than 20 countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Besides English, the study was also conducted in Simplified and traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog.
The survey found that nearly all Asian adult respondents in the study (90%) said Asians living in the U.S. have different cultures, a result that 80% of the broader public of U.S. adults agreed with. About 1 in 5, 18%, responded that Asian Americans share a common culture.
In terms of how they identify themselves, a bit over half of the Asian adult respondents (52%) said they use their heritage or family roots, such as Filipino or Filipino American, Korean or Korean American and Chinese or Chinese American.
Of these respondents, 26% said they use ethnicity alone, while 25% said they combine their ethnicity with “American” when describing themselves.
Similarly, about 51% of the Asian adult respondents described themselves as American, with 10% only using “American” alone, and 16% preferred the pan-ethnic label “Asian American.” The 25% who combine their ethnicity with “American” matches the same statistic included with those who describe themselves by their ethnic origin.
Additionally, the survey found that 6% of Asian adults in the U.S. use regional terms to identify themselves, such as South Asian or Southeast Asian, and 12% preferred to use just Asian.
“Though Asian Americans’ identities reflect their diverse cultures and origins, Asian adults also report certain shared experiences,” the study noted.
“A majority (60%) say most people would describe them as ‘Asian’ while walking past them on the street, indicating most Asian adults feel they are seen by others as a single group, despite the population’s diversity.”
The survey also studied how Asian immigrants identify themselves in the U.S. by comparing those who had recently arrived and those who had been in the country for over 20 years.
Of those who had been in the U.S. for 10 years or less, 65% said they describe themselves by ethnicity, with 54% reporting to only use their ethnicity and 12% using a combination of their ethnicity and “American.”
Of those who had been in the country for more than 20 years, 54% said they describe themselves by ethnicity, with 33% saying they describe themselves using their ethnicity and “American” and 21% only using their ethnicity.
Additionally, about 17% of those who arrived in the past 10 years admitted to hiding a part of their heritage, such as ethnic food, cultural practices, clothing or religious practices, from non-Asians out of fear of discrimination, being teased or embarrassment. About 14% of those with more than 20 years in the U.S. shared a similar answer.
Age-wise, the study stated that adults between the ages of 18 to 29 are more likely to hide a part of their heritage (39%) than those who are between 30 to 49 (21%), 50 to 64 (12%) and 65 and up (5%).
When it comes to their views on who they consider to be Asians from the different regions on the continent, the majority of Adult Asian respondents consider those of East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian descent to be Asians.
However, respondents were split on the topic of Central Asians, such as Afghans and Kazakhs, if they consider them to be Asians, of which 43% of Asian adults who answered said they are.
Indian respondents answered the highest in the survey at 56%, saying Central Asians are still considered Asian, while Vietnamese respondents were the lowest at 30%. followed by Koreans at 32%.
The study found that about six in 10 Asian adults feel connected to other Asians in the country.
The study noted that about six in 10 Asian adults (59%) said that their lives are affected by things that happen to other Asians in the country. Additionally, about two-thirds (68%) of Asian Americans said it is “extremely or very important to have a national leader advocating for the concerns and needs of the Asian population in the U.S.”
When it comes to making or having friends in the country, 51% of all Asian adults said most or all of their friends are of the same ethnicity or are also Asian; however, the results vary between each ethnicity. For instance, about 55% of Vietnamese and Indian respondents answered the same but only about 34% of Japanese respondents agreed.
When asked about how informed they are of Asian history in the U.S., about one in four Asian adults (24%) answered “extremely” or “very” while 50% said they only “somewhat” know.
As for how they learned Asian history in the U.S., 82% said they got their information from the internet and 75% said the media. Learning Asian history from college or university or during elementary through high school yielded low results at 37% and 33%, respectively.
Politics-wise, the majority of Asian registered voters are still leaning towards the Democratic Party at 62% as opposed to those who prefer to vote Republican at 34%.
According to the Pew Research Center study, the majority of Republican voters can be found among the Vietnamese diaspora and those categorized under “Other” at 52% and 69%, respectively. Most Filipinos and Indians (both 68%) leaned toward the Democratic Party, followed by Koreans (67%) and Chinese (56%) respondents.
Asian adult respondents and U.S. adults both agreed on their views on what it means to be American, the survey learned.
About 94% of Asian adults and 91% of U.S. adults agreed that “accepting people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds” is what makes one an American. About 92% and 94% also added “believing in individual freedoms,” and 89% and 87% said “respecting U.S. political institutions and laws are important for being ‘truly American.’”
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