Although decades have passed since the initial immigration of Southeast Asians to the U.S. after the Vietnam War, the socioeconomic outcomes of the native-born offspring of Southeast Asian immigrants have not been adequately considered in recent research. We therefore investigate current data on the education, wages, poverty, affluence, and household income of Southeast Asian Americans. The results indicate that the socioeconomic outcomes of native-born Southeast Asian Americans are substantially higher than their immigrant generation. Second-generation Thai and Vietnamese tend to have higher socioeconomic outcomes than whites, while second-generation Cambodians, Hmong and Laotians have lower outcomes than whites. However, none of the five native-born Southeast Asian groups are penalized in terms of wages net of their demographic characteristics. Furthermore, all five of the native-born Southeast Asian groups generally have higher socioeconomic outcomes than African Americans and Hispanics. Whereas prior discussions of Southeast Asian Americans imply that their lower socioeconomic characteristics derive from the intergenerational persistence of minority discrimination in an inherently racialized society, we instead view them as being broadly consistent with assimilation theory which has traditionally been based on a three-generational model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law