Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are Pacific Islanders Asian?

Q. Are Pacific Islanders Asian?

A. No.

Pacific Islanders and Asians are two distinct, different, separate racial minority groups. Federal policy on racial and ethnic data collection recognizes this difference in OMB Directive No. 15, which was updated in 1997 to recognize that Pacific Islanders and Asians should not be lumped together -- instead, they should be acknowledged as distinct racial groups.

In addition to being two different groups, Pacific Islanders and Asians have two very different rates of higher education attainment.

According to data used by the Census for this year's Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month, 50 percent of Asians 25-or-older have at least a college degree. For Pacific Islanders, that rate is 14 percent.

For advanced degrees, the difference is even bigger -- 20 percent of Asians in the U.S. hold an advanced degree, compared to 4 percent of Pacific Islanders.

In other words, Asians are over three-and-a-half times more likely to earn a bachelors degree, and five times more likely to earn an advanced degree.

So while Pacific Islanders and Asians can (and do) work together on common issues that serve both communities, it's also important to remember that in some areas, they have different needs.

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