Asian-Americans learn more, earn less

September 18, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Asian-Americans are nearly twice as likely as whites to have completed college yet they earn less on average, according to a Census Bureau analysis released yesterday.

About 39 percent of Asian-Americans aged 25 or older have finished at least four years of college, the study found, compared with 22 percent of whites.

The statistical profile of Asians and Pacific Islanders is based on surveys conducted in 1990 and 1991. Authors of the study said that the high level of education attained by Asian-Americans apparently reflects that Asians are devoted to education and that highly educated Asians are more likely to have migrated to the United States.

But this superior education level does not necessarily translate into higher earnings. In 1990, the per capita earnings of Asians and Pacific Islanders was $13,420, below the $15,270 average for whites.

Asian males who worked full time during the year had median earnings of $26,760, also lower than the $28,880 earned by whites. The disparity was less when the comparison was limited to those with four or more years of college. In this group, Asians earned $34,470 in 1990, somewhat below the $36,130 earned by whites.

By one income measure, Asians fared better.

The study said that Asian and Pacific Islander families had a median income of $42,250 in 1990, higher than the $36,920 earned by white families. The study noted that Asian families were larger on average, and that family income among some groups, such as Samoans, Guamanians and Vietnamese, fell well below the median.

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