How Science Ignores Asian Americans The pandemic put Asian Americans in the spotlight and revealed how little is known about them. Protesters gathered in March to draw attention to the growing hatred of Asian Americans in the wake of the shooting at the Atlanta spa in New York City. Too often, Asian Americans are ignored or treated as a monolithic group in research studies, rendering them invisible, the researchers argue.

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For years, sociologist Changhwan Kim has tried to portray the lives and experiences of Asian Americans. However, the gatekeepers of the research community have often scoffed at its focus on a demographic that resembles the picture of success in terms of education, income, health, and other variables (SN: 4/14/21) .

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Asian Americans

"In my experience, if I only have one study with Asian Americans, journals are reluctant to publish that work," says Kim of the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The apparent lack of interest in studying Asian Americans is not limited to sociology. It also appears in medical research. Of the approximately 23 million people.

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Asian Americans make up about 7 percent of the American population and are the fastest growing demographic in the country. Yet only 0.17 percent of the nearly $ 451 billion in research funding from the National Institutes of Health between 1992 and 2018 went to clinical studies that focused on Asian Americans.

The researchers reported in the JAMA Network Open 2019. Over the past year, along with an increase in violence against Asian Americans, politicians' use of racial adjectives such as "China virus" and "kung flu" to refer to COVID-19 has led to this population to media attention. This meditation is "a new phenomenon," says Kim.

Sociologist Changhwan Kim

This media gaze has shown how little is known about Asian Americans and, consequently, how to meet the needs of the population. Sociologist Changhwan Kim of the University of Kansas in Lawrence is calling for more research on the Asian-American experience. The invisibility of Asian Americans in public and scientific discourse stems from the majority-minority paradigm, says Kim.

This sociopolitical paradigm outperforms most white Americans, compared to minority groups, on several metrics, including educational outcomes, wages, and family stability. Therefore, the study of minorities often focuses on issues related to marginalization and inequality. Asian Americans don't seem to fit this paradigm.

Minorities are worse off than whites. That’s what people want to talk about, says Kim. Studies of Asian Americans complicate matters. Because of their apparent success, Asian Americans are often excluded from research, mixed in with white people, or placed in the other category.

A sociologist at Texas A&M University in College Station. For example, researchers study both struggling and successful white Americans to understand the full range of outcomes within the group, he says. However, as with minority groups, researchers focus heavily on those who struggle, thus excluding Asian Americans. If you really want to understand the ultimate nature of social problems, you must also study the reverse, says Sakamoto. You cannot study just one end of the distribution. Additionally, Asian Americans face challenges.

For example, they are less likely to use mental health services than other demographic groups, and not simply because they have fewer mental health problems. In January 2020, researchers from the Psychiatric Service reported that, in a U.S. sample of 10,494 whites and 451 Asian Americans diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, 70 percent of whites reported psychotic compared to just the 35.3 percent of Asian Americans received health treatment. And while their level of education and income are equal to or even higher than that of white Americans.

Asian Americans

Asian Americans are underrepresented in managerial and supervisory positions. Researchers refer to this as a bamboo roof. Even when studying Asian Americans, researchers rarely divide this highly heterogeneous group into separate populations.

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Members come from at least 19 countries, each with different cultures and languages, and not a single population dominates. Therefore, treating Asian Americans as a monolithic group can hide sub-groups of conflict.

Mongolia & Burma

For example, the overall poverty rate for Asian Americans is 10 percent, but it rises to 25 percent for the populations of Mongolia and Burma, according to an April report from the nonpartisan research center Pew. Kim says that as the population grows.


It becomes more important to understand this group and its complexities. According to Pew, Asian Americans are projected to surpass Hispanics as the largest immigrant group by 2055. By then, Asian Americans are expected to comprise 36 percent of all US immigrants and Hispanics the 34 percent.


The data set that researchers use to study American demographics reflects this long-standing apathy in studying Asian Americans, says Kim. Few surveys fit Asian Americans enough to study subgroups within the category in detail. It's true that the US Census Bureau also says about annual surveys.

Employment trends

Which provide snapshots of demographic and employment trends. Meanwhile, some popular longitudinal surveys that follow people over a long period of time, such as the National Longitudinal Survey and Income Dynamics Panel Study. Include enough Asian Americans to study them as a block.

We cannot study how Asian Americans move forward in their lives or how Asian American parents pass from generation to generation, says Kim. Community psychologist Nelly Tran ran into that problem several years ago. As a graduate student, she wanted to understand the educational outcomes of American-born Asian Americans. And examined the scientific literature. I found only 45 articles in history, says Tran, who is now at San Diego State University. Most of those articles were based on a single data set, the 1988 National Educational Longitudinal Study, which ran between 1988 and 2000 and followed people from eighth grade through adulthood. The sociologists were “studying a lot of different questions from a group of students, says Tran. That group was also not relevant to Tran’s work, as the Asian-Americans in the survey were predominantly foreign-born.

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