Earnings Returns to Occupational Status: Are Asian Americans Disadvantaged?

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21 Scopus citations


While Asian Americans fare well in the U.S. economy by some measures, many argue that this achievement masks the structural constraints to mobility still encountered in the labor market. This study is the first to systematically examine, by Asian ethnicity and gender, whether Asian Americans receive lower earnings returns to their occupational status than non-Hispanic whites. Results here indicate that native-born Asian men and women of various ethnic groups do not earn significantly less than otherwise similar native-born non-Hispanic whites, and they receive equivalent earnings returns to their occupational status. This evidence is not consistent with the racial discrimination hypothesis. Only foreign-born Asian men are disadvantaged relative to native-born non-Hispanic white men, although within this group there is considerable variation by nation of origin. But because a majority of Asians in the United States are immigrants, continued attention needs to be directed as to how subsequent generations of Asian Americans fare in the labor market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-65
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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