This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Asians in Southern California

On September 11th, 2001, my wife and I were packed and ready to fly to Singapore to visit our older son, who was teaching a course there at the time. The events of that day meant that we never got to Singapore because our flight was cancelled and our son returned to France, where he was living at the time. Since we wound up not going, we asked him to describe Singapore for us, and his response was: "A lot like like Southern California, but with fewer Asians!" I thought of that story today when reading a story in the New York Times about the growth of the Asian population in Southern California--as though this was a new phenomenon:
The transformation illustrates a drastic shift in California immigration trends over the last decade, one that can easily be seen all over the area: more than twice as many immigrants to the nation’s most populous state now come from Asia than from Latin America.
The only problem with this particular statement, however, is that it isn't true. I looked at the American Community Survey for the combined years of 2007-11, downloaded from at the Minnesota Population Center. I used the same criterion of "recency" as does the updated Pew Research Center report on the rise of Asian Americans referred to in the NY Times story--namely that people have arrived since 2004. The results show that there are 657,000 Latin Americans in California who have arrived since 2004, compared to 517,000 Asians, with the single biggest group of Asians coming from the Philippines. 

Furthermore, the author of the story, Jennifer Medina, suggests that:
Much of the current immigration debate in Congress has focused on Hispanics, and California has for decades been viewed as the focal point of that migration. But in cities in the San Gabriel Valley — as well as in Orange County and in Silicon Valley in Northern California — Asian immigrants have become a dominant cultural force in places that were once largely white or Hispanic.
However, she fails to point out that the immigration debate is largely about undocumented immigrants, and the Pew Research Center's analysis suggests that Latin American (mainly Mexican) undocumented immigrants outnumber Asian undocumented immigrants by a ratio of 7 to 1. Nonetheless, it is useful to point out the conclusion drawn by the Pew Research Center in the report mentioned above about the Asian population in the United States:
Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success, according to a comprehensive new nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.

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