Social and economic inequality and Asian Americans in the United States

Elizabeth Segal, Keith M. Kilty, Rebecca Y. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Describing social and economic inequality within the Asian American community is difficult. Depending on how “Asian American” is defined, there are twenty to thirty cultures, countries of origin, and a wide range of identities and circumstances that influence economic and social well-being. It is almost presumptuous to attempt to categorize such a diverse collection of identities as one group. At the same time, Asians and Pacific Islanders have been an increasing population group in the U.S. over the past thirty years. A common conception of them now is that of the “model minority”; i.e., as a minority group which has through hard work rather than political confrontation achieved the American Dream. Simple economic and educational comparisons suggest that Asian Americans have done quite well. Yet those comparisons are misleading. When controlling for educational status, Asian Americans have lower incomes than their White counterparts. Asian Americans, especially recent immigrants, also have higher poverty rates, whether for individuals, families, or children, than Whites. Overall, the impact of race continues to be significant for the well-being of this minority group, putting them at a disadvantage in American society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Poverty
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Asian American
  • Discrimination
  • Economic well-being
  • Model minority
  • Pacific islander
  • Race
  • Racism
  • Social well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Sociology and Political Science


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