Indian Americans ahead of all other ethnic minorities in US

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
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  • Updated: Jun 19, 2012 23:39 IST

Indian-Americans are richer and better educated than all other ethnic groups in the US but are least likely to marry out of the community, says a new study.

And, as most other Asian-Americans they lean politically towards the Democratic Party, but unlike them take longer to give up their Indian citizenship.

The study by Pew Research Center released on Tuesday uses existing data and new survey to chart — as the title says — the rise of Asian Americans.

Indian Americans are the third largest Asian American group at 3.18 million, behind Chinese and Filipino origin Americans at 4.01 million and 3.41 million respectively.

The first Indians came to the US between 1904 and 1911 as farmhands. They were then described as caucasians, and could become citizens and marry US-born whites. But that changed.  Immigration from India was prohibited in 1917, and a 1923 Supreme Court decision called them non-whites. The gates were thrown up in 1965 with new laws.

Indians started landing in waves, mostly through student and temporary-work visas, accounting for more than half of H1B recipients in 2011 (there have been cuts since). Their successes make the community the most prosperous and educated.

Median annual personal earnings for Indian-American full-time, was $65,000, higher than for all Asian Americans ($48,000) as well as for all US adults ($40,000). Among households, the median annual income for Indian Americans  was $88,000, much higher than for all Asians ($66,000) and all US households ($49,800). And, that’s probably because they are better educated. “Among Indian Americans aged 25 and older, seven-in-ten (70%) have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.”

But they are socially less open, if inter-marriage was taken as the sole test. South Carolina’s Indian-American governor Nikki Haley is an exception, she is married to a non-Indian-American. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is the norm, marrying another Indian-American. Only 12% of Indian-American newlyweds between 2008 and 2010 married out of the community.

This may have something to do with reluctance to break from their past — only 56% of adult Indian-Americans are US citizens, compared to 70 for all Asian Americans.


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