Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Similarities and Differences in Pacific Islander and Asian Data

This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. As I mentioned in a post last month, the U.S. Census Bureau has released data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. You can see the entire release by clicking here: LINK

You'll notice that Pacific Islander and Asian data are in the same release, but they're displayed separately. This allows us to look at ways that the two groups are similar and different.

One clear similarity between Pacific Islanders and Asians is that they are experiencing growth, growth in total population, and growth in the number of business they own. Over a ten year period (2000 to 2010) the U.S. Pacific Islander population increased by 40 percent. During the same period, the Asian population increased by 46 percent.

Over the most recently analyzed five year period (2002 to 2007), the rate of business ownership was similarly strong -- the number of Asian-owned businesses grew by 40 percent, while the number of Pacific Islander-owned businesses grew by 30 percent. During the same period, overall U.S. business ownership grew by a slower rate of 18 percent.

Interestingly, with respect to educational attainment, Pacific Islanders and Asians are very similar in one respect -- high school graduation rates. Recent stats report that 85 percent of Asians who are 25-or-older have graduated high school. The rate for Pacific Islanders is 86 percent.

After high school, the education attainment similarities end. When you look at higher education, it is clear that Pacific Islanders and Asians are two separate groups who should not be lumped together for data collection. One example: the release reports that exactly half (50 percent) of Asians 25-or-older have at least a bachelors degree. The rate for Pacific Islanders is 14 percent -- less than 1/3rd of the Asian rate.

For the next level of education, the gap is even wider. 20 percent of Asians have an advanced degree. The Pacific Islander rate is 4 percent, which is 1/5th of the Asian rate.

In other words, compared to Asians, Pacific Islanders are over three times less likely to get a bachelors degree, and five times less likely to get an advanced degree.


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