1.2% of the U.S. population (2010)1
|Regions with significant populations|
|New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle|
|Predominantly English, varieties of Chinese:
Mandarin Chinese (Standard Chinese), Yue Chinese (Cantonese, Taishanese), Min Chinese (Min Dong,2 Min Nan), Hakka, Wu Chinese3 (Taihu Wu, Oujiang Wu), and Minority Uyghur.
|Unaffiliated, Protestantism, Buddhism, Catholicism45|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Hong Kong Americans, Taiwanese Americans
|Alternative Chinese name|
Chinese Americans, also known as American Chinese or Sino-Americans, are Americans of full or partial Chinese – particularly Han Chinese – descent.6 Chinese Americans constitute one group of overseas Chinese and also a subgroup of East Asian Americans, which is further a subgroup of Asian Americans. Many Chinese Americans are immigrants along with their descendants from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, as well as from other countries that include large populations of the Chinese diaspora.7
Demographic research tends to categorize overseas Chinese who have immigrated from South East Asia and South America and immigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan as Chinese Americans; however, both the governments of the Republic of China and the United States refer to Taiwanese Americans as a separate subgroup of Chinese Americans.8910
The Chinese American community is the largest overseas Chinese community outside of Asia. It is also the fourth largest in the Chinese diaspora, behind the Chinese communities in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The Chinese American community comprises the largest and oldest ethnic group of Asian Americans, comprising 25.9% of the Asian American population as of 2010. Americans of Chinese descent, including those with partial Chinese ancestry constitute 1.2% of the total U.S. population as of 2010. According to the 2010 census, the Chinese American population numbered approximately 3.8 million.1 In 2010, half of Chinese-born people living in the United States lived either in California or New York State.11
- 1 History
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Influence on American culture
- 4 Language
- 5 Religion
- 6 Politics
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Socioeconomics
- 9 Notable Chinese Americans
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1820, according to U.S. government records. 325 men are known to have arrived before the 1849 California Gold Rush,12 which drew the first significant number of laborers from China who mined for gold and performed menial labor.131415 There were 25,000 immigrants by 1852, and 105,465 by 1880, most of whom lived on the West Coast. They formed over a tenth of California's population. Nearly all of the early immigrants were young males with low educational levels from six districts in Guangdong Province.16
The Chinese came to California in large numbers during the California Gold Rush, with 40,400 being recorded as arriving from 1851–1860, and again in the 1860s, when the Central Pacific Railroad recruited large labor gangs, many on five-year contracts, to build its portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese laborers worked out well and thousands more were recruited until the railroad's completion in 1869. Chinese labor provided the massive workforce needed to build the majority of the Central Pacific's difficult route through the Sierra Nevada mountains and across Nevada.
The Chinese population rose from 2,716 in 1851 to 63,000 by 1871. In the decade 1861-70, 64,301 were recorded as arriving, followed by 123,201 in 1871-80 and 61,711 in 1881-1890. 77% were located in California, with the rest scattered across the West, the South, and New England.17 Most came from Southern China looking for a better life, escaping a high rate of poverty left after the Taiping Rebellion.
The initial immigration group may have been as high as 90% male, because most immigrants came with the thought of earning money, and then returning to China to start a family. Those that stayed in America faced the lack of suitable Chinese brides, because Chinese women were not allowed to immigrate to the US in significant numbers after 1872. As a result, many isolated mostly-bachelor communities slowly aged in place with very low Chinese birth rates. Later, as a result of the Fourteenth Amendment and the 1898 United States v. Wong Kim Ark Supreme Court decision, ethnic Chinese born in the United States became American citizens.
During and after World War II, severe immigration restrictions were eased as the United States allied with China against Japanese expansionism. Later reforms in the 1960s placed increasing value on family unification, allowing relatives of U.S. citizens to receive preference in immigration.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
According to the 2012 Census estimates,20 the three metropolitan areas with the largest Chinese American populations were the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area at 735,019 people, the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area at 629,243 people, and the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area at about 566,968 people. New York City is home to the highest Chinese American population of any city proper (522,619), while the Los Angeles County city of Monterey Park has the highest percentage of Chinese Americans of any municipality, at 43.7% of its population, or 24,758 people.
The states with the largest estimated Chinese American populations, according to both the 2010 Census, were California (1,253,100; 3.4%), New York (577,000; 3.0%), Texas (157,000; 0.6%), New Jersey (134,500; 1.5%), Massachusetts (123,000; 1.9%), Illinois (104,200; 0.8%), Washington (94,200; 1.4%), Pennsylvania (85,000; 0.7%), Maryland (69,400; 1.2%), Virginia (59,800; 0.7%), and Ohio (51,033; 0.5%). The state of Hawaii has the highest concentration of Chinese Americans at 4.0%, or 55,000 people.
The New York City Metropolitan Area, consisting of New York City, Long Island, and nearby areas within the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, is home to the largest Chinese American population of any metropolitan area within the United States, enumerating 682,265 individuals as of the 2010 United States Census,21 and including at least nine Chinatowns. Continuing significant immigration from Mainland China, both legal2223 and illegal24 in origin, has spurred the ongoing rise of the Chinese American population in the New York metropolitan area; this immigration continues to be fueled by New York's status as an alpha global city, its high population density, its extensive mass transit system, and the New York metropolitan area's enormous economic marketplace.
Also on the East Coast, the Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas have significant Chinese American communities. The Washington, D.C. suburbs of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia, are 3.9% and 2.4% Chinese American, respectively. Boston's Chinatown is the only historical Chinese neighborhood within New England. The Boston suburb of Quincy also has a prominent Chinese American population, especially within the North Quincy area.25
San Francisco, California has the highest per capita concentration of Chinese Americans of any major city in the United States, at an estimated 21.4%, or 172,181 people, and contains the second-largest total number of Chinese Americans of any U.S. city. San Francisco's Chinatown was established in the 1840s, making it the oldest Chinatown in North America and one of the largest neighborhoods of Chinese people outside of Asia,2627 composed in large part by immigrants hailing from Guangdong province and also many from Hong Kong. The San Francisco neighborhoods of Sunset District and Richmond District also contain significant Chinese populations.
In addition to the big cities, smaller pockets of Chinese Americans are also dispersed in rural towns, often university-college towns, throughout the United States. For example, the number of Chinese Americans, including college professors, doctors, professionals, and students, has increased over 200% from 2005 to 2010 in Providence, Rhode Island, a small city with a large number of colleges.
Income and social status of these Chinese-American locations vary widely. Although many Chinese Americans in Chinatowns of large cities are often members of an impoverished working class, others are well-educated upper-class people living in affluent suburbs. The upper and lower-class Chinese are also widely separated by social status and class discrimination. In California's San Gabriel Valley, for example, the cities of Monterey Park and San Marino are both Chinese American communities lying geographically close to each other but they are separated by a large socio-economic and income gap.
A third of a million Chinese Americans are not United States citizens.28
A list of large cities (250,000+ residents) with a Chinese-American population in excess of 1% of the general population in 2010.1
|5||New York City||New York||486,463||6.0|
Some noteworthy historical Chinese contributions include building the western half of the Transcontinental Railroad, and levees in the Sacramento River Delta; the popularization of Chinese American food; science and technological innovation; and the introduction of Chinese and East Asian culture to America, such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Kung fu.
Chinese immigrants to the United States brought many of their ideas and values with them. Some of these have continued to influence later generations. Among them are Confucian respect for elders.36 Similarly, education and the civil service were the most important path for upward social mobility in China.3637 The first Broadway show about Asian Americans was Flower Drum Song which premiered on Broadway in 1958;38 the hit Chinglish premiered on Broadway in 2011.39
In most American cities with significant Chinese populations, the new year is celebrated with cultural festivals and parties. In Seattle, the Chinese Culture and Arts Festival is held every year. Other important festivals include the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Analysis indicated that most non-Asian Americans do not differentiate between Chinese Americans and East Asian Americans generally, and perceptions of both groups are nearly identical.40 A 2001 survey of Americans' attitudes toward Asian Americans and Chinese Americans indicated that one fourth of the respondents had somewhat or very negative attitude toward Chinese Americans in general.41 The study did find several positive perceptions of Chinese Americans: strong family values (91%); honesty as entrepreneurs (77%); high value on education (67%).40
Chinese is the third most-spoken language in the United States, almost completely spoken within Chinese American populations and by immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, especially in California.42 Over 2 million Americans speak some variety of Chinese, with Mandarin Chinese becoming increasingly common due to immigration from mainland China and Taiwan.42
In New York City at least, although Mandarin is spoken as a native language among only 10% of Chinese speakers, it is used as a secondary dialect among the greatest number of them and is on the way to replacing Cantonese as their lingua franca.43 In addition, immigration from Fujian is bringing an increasingly large number of Min speakers. Wu dialects, previously unheard of in the United States, are now spoken by a minority of recent Chinese immigrants hailing from Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai.
Although Chinese Americans grow up learning English, some teach their children Chinese for a variety of reasons: preservation of an ancient civilization, preservation of a unique identity, pride in their cultural ancestry, desire for easy communication with them and other relatives, and the perception that Chinese will be a very useful language as China's economic strength increases. Cantonese, historically the language of most Chinese immigrants, is the third most widely spoken non-English language in the United States.44
The Chinese American community differs from the rest of the population in that the majority of Chinese Americans do not report a religious affiliation. 43% of Chinese Americans switched to a different religion and 54% stayed within their childhood religion within their lifetime. According to the Pew Research Center's 2012 Asian-American Survey, 52% of Chinese Americans aged 15 and over said that they didn't have any religious affiliation. This is also compared with the religious affiliation of Asian American average of 26% and a national average of 19%.
Of Chinese Americans who were religious, 15% were Buddhist, 8% were Catholic, and 22% belonged to a Protestant denomination. Fully half of Chinese Americans (52%)—including 55% of those born in the U.S. and 51% of those born overseas—describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated. Because Chinese Americans are the largest subgroup of Asian Americans, nearly half of all religiously unaffiliated Asians in the U.S. are of Chinese descent (49%).45
Chinese Americans are divided among many subgroups based on factors such as age, nativity, and socioeconomic status and do not have uniform attitudes about the People's Republic of China (Communist China) or the Republic of China (Taiwan Kuomintang), about the United States, or about Chinese nationalism. Different subgroups of Chinese Americans also have radically different and sometimes very conflicting political priorities and goals.
In 2013, Chinese Americans were the least likely Asian American ethnicity to be affiliated with a political party.45
Nonetheless, Chinese Americans are clustered in majority-Democratic states and have increasingly voted Democratic in recent presidential elections, following the trend for Asian Americans in general.46 Polling just before the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election found John Kerry was favored by 58% of Chinese Americans and George W. Bush by only 23%,47 as compared with a 54/44 split in California, a 58/40 split in New York, and a 48/51 split in America as a whole on Election Day itself. In the 2012 presidential election, 81% of Chinese American voters selected Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.48
Chinese Americans were an important source of funds for Han revolutionaries during the later Qing dynasty, and Sun Yat-sen was raising money in America at the time of the Xinhai Revolution, which established the Republic of China. During the Cultural Revolution, Chinese Americans, as overseas Chinese in general, were viewed as capitalist traitors by the PRC government. This attitude changed dramatically in the late 1970s with the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. Increasingly, Chinese Americans were seen as sources of business and technical expertise and capital who could aid in China's economic and other development.
Economic growth in the People's Republic of China has given mainland Chinese more opportunities to emigrate. A 2011 survey showed that 60% of Chinese millionaires plan to emigrate and 40% of Chinese millionaires selecting the United States as the top destination for immigration.49495051525354 The EB-5 Investment Visa allows many powerful Chinese to seek U.S. citizenship, and recent reports show that 75% of applicants for this visa in 2011 were Chinese.5556 Chinese multimillionaires benefited most from the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in the U.S. Now, as long as one has at least US$500,000 to invest in projects listed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where it is possible to get an EB-5 green card that comes with permanent U.S. residency rights, but only in states specified by the pilot project.5758
Overall, as a demographic group, Chinese Americans are highly educated and earn higher incomes when compared to other demographic groups in the United States.59 Educational achievements of Chinese in the United States are one of the highest among Asian Americans and also among all ethnic groups in the United States.60 Chinese Americans often have some of the highest averages in tests such as SAT, GRE, etc. in the United States. Although verbal scores lag somewhat due to the influx of new immigrants, combined SAT scores have also been higher than for most Americans. Chinese Americans are the largest racial group on all but one of the nine fully established University of California campuses.61626364
They are the largest group among US National Merit Scholarship awardees in California,citation needed They are more likely to apply to competitively elite higher education institutions.65666768 They also constitute 24% of all Olympic Seattle Scholarship winners, 33% of USA Math Olympiad winners, 15.5% of Putnam Math Competition winners, and 36% of Duke Talent Identification Grand Recognition Ceremony attendees from the Dallas Metropolitan area.6970
International students studying at various higher education institutions around the United States account for a significant percentage of the international student body. International undergraduates, who make up 8% of Duke's undergraduate body, come from China more than any other country.7172 International Chinese students also comprise 11% of the nearly 5,800 freshmen at the University of Washington.73 Mainland China is the top sending country of international students to the United States.7475 As a result of its growing economy and large population, more middle-class families from China are able to afford American college tuition, bringing an influx of Chinese students to study abroad in the United States. With a more diverse educational background and higher level of English proficiency, international Chinese students also value American degrees, as it gives them a notable advantage over their college-educated counterparts in China by the time they return to their native country to seek employment.76
Due to cultural factors, many Chinese international students are brand name conscious, choosing nationally ranked elite higher education institutes throughout the United States as their target schools.777879 International Chinese students are also widely found at many elite liberal arts colleges such as Barnard College and Mount Holyoke.8081 Students from China gravitate towards Americans colleges and universities for their high quality and the style of education which stresses interdisciplinary approaches, creativity, student participation and critical thinking.79
Chinese students comprise 18% of the international student population in America, and make up 32.2% of the undergraduate students and 48.8% of the graduate students. Chinese international students tend to gravitate towards technical majors that involve heavy use of mathematics and the natural sciences. 27.5% of international Chinese students study business management, finance, or economics, 19.2% study engineering, 11.5% study the life sciences and 10.6% study math or computer science.82
Largely driven by educational immigration, among American PhD recipients in fields related to science and engineering, 25% of the recipients are ethnic Chinese.83 According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, 51.8% of all Chinese Americans have attained at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 28.2% nationally and 49.9% for all Asian American groups. The Census reports that 54.7% of Chinese American men attained a bachelor's degree and 49.3% of Chinese American women attained a bachelor's degree. In addition, 26.6% of all Chinese Americans in the United States possess a master's, doctorate or other professional degree, compared to 20.3% for all Asian Americans, and is roughly two and a half times above the national average, with high educational attainment largely driven by educational immigration.2584
|Ethnicity||Percent of Population|
|Total US Population||28.2%|
There has been a significant change in the perceptions about Chinese Americans. In as little as 100 years of American history, stereotypes of Chinese Americans have changed to portraying a hard working and educated minority. Thus, most Chinese Americans work as white collar professionals, many of whom are highly educated, salaried professionals whose work is largely self-directed in management, professional, and related occupations such as engineering, medicine, investment banking, law, and academia. 53.1% of Chinese Americans work in many white collar professions compared with 48.1% for all Asian Americans and a national average of 35.1%.25 They make up 2% of working physicians in the United States.86 Chinese Americans also make up a third of the Asian American high tech professional workforce and a tenth of the entire Silicon Valley workforce.87 Chinese Americans also hold lower unemployment rates than the population average with a figure of 4.7% compared to a national rate of 5.9% in 2010.25
Many Chinese Americans have turned to the high tech center to jump-start potential computer and internet startups to capitalize on the regions wealth of venture capital, business expertise, and cultural and financial incentives for innovation. Ethnic Chinese have been successful in starting new firms in technology centers across the United States, including California's Silicon Valley. Chinese Americans have been disproportionately successful in high technology sectors, as evidenced by the Goldsea 100 Compilation of America's Most Successful Asian Entrepreneurs.88 Chinese Americans accounted for 4% of people listed in the 1998 Forbes Hi Tech 100 List.69
Annalee Saxenian, a UC Berkeley professor, whose research interests include the contribution of Chinese immigrants on America's technology concludes that in Silicon Valley, carried out a study that showed that since 1998, one out of five high tech start-ups in Silicon Valley were led by Chinese Americans. During the same year, 5 of the 8 fastest growing companies had Chinese American CEO's except for Yahoo, whose Jerry Yang was a founder but not a CEO. In Silicon Valley there are at least 2 to 3 dozen Chinese American organizations according to professional interests each with at least 100 members. One prominent organization of which is the Committee of 100.89 Immigrants from China and Taiwan were key founders in 12.8% of all Silicon Valley start-ups between 1995 to 2005.90 Almost 6% of the immigrants who founded companies in the innovation/manufacturing-related services field are from Mainland China and Taiwan.91
Research funded by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that in 1996, 1,786 Silicon Valley technology companies with $12.5 billion in sales and 46,000 employees were run by Indian or Chinese executives. Moreover, the pace of entrepreneurship among local immigrants is increasing rapidly. While Chinese or Indian executives are at the helm of 13% of the Silicon Valley technology businesses started between 1980 and 1985, they are running 27% of the more than 4,000 businesses started between 1991 and 1996.92 Start-up firms remain a primary source for new ideas and innovation for Chinese American internet entrepreneurs. Many of them are employed or directly engaged in new start-up activities. The proportional share of start-up firms by ethnic Chinese in Silicon Valley skyrocketed from 9% in 1980-1984 to about 20% between 1995-1998.93 By 2006, Chinese American internet entrepreneurs continued to start 20% of all Silicon Valley start-up firms, leading 2000 Silicon Valley companies, and employing 58,000 workers.83 They still continue to own about 20% of all information technology companies that were founded in Silicon Valley since 1980.
Numerous professional organizations in perspective in the 1990s as a support network for fellow Chinese American high tech start-ups in the valley.94 Between 1980 and 1999, 17% of the 11,443 high-tech firms in Silicon Valley - including some 40 publicly traded firms were controlled by ethnic Chinese. In 1990, Chinese Americans made up a third of the Asian American high tech professional workforce or 11% of the entire Silicon Valley professional workforce. In 1998, Chinese Americans managed 2001 firms, employing 41,684 workers, and ran up 13.2 billion in sales. They also account for 17% of all Silicon Valley firm owners, 10% of the professional workforce in the Valley, and 13.5% of the total sales accounting for less than 1% of the U.S. population at the time.95
Though Chinese Americans are also noted for their high rates of self-employment, as they have an extensive history of self-employment dating back to the California Gold Rush in the 1880s,96 However, as more Chinese Americans seek higher education to elevate themselves socioeconomically, rates of self-employment are generally lower than population average.97 In 2007, there were over 109,614 Chinese-owned employer firms, employing more than 780,000 workers, and generating more than $128 billion in revenue.98
Among Chinese-owned U.S. firms, 40% were in the professional, scientific, and technical services sector; the accommodation and food services sector; and the repair, maintenance, personal, and laundry services sector. Chinese-owned U.S. firms comprised 2% of all U.S. businesses in these sectors. Wholesale trade and accommodation and food services accounted for 50.4% of Chinese-owned business revenue. 66,505 or 15.7% of Chinese-owned firms had receipts of $250,000 or more compared with 2% for all U.S. businesses.9899100101102103
With their above average educational attainment rates, Chinese Americans from all socioeconomic backgrounds have achieved significant advances in their educational levels, income, life expectancy, and other social indicators as the financial and socioeconomic opportunities offered by the United States have lifted many Chinese Americans out of poverty, bringing them into the ranks of America's middle class, upper middle class, as well as the enjoyment of substantial well being.104
Chinese Americans are more likely to own homes than the general American population. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 65% of Chinese Americans owned a home, higher than the total population's rate of 54%.105106 In 2003, real estate economist Gary Painter of the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate Research found out that when comparing homeowners with similar income levels Los Angeles, the Chinese-American home-ownership rate is 20% higher than Whites; in San Francisco, 23% higher; and in the New York metropolitan area, 18% higher.107 A 2008 Asian Real Estate Association of America report released on behalf of the American community survey, Chinese Americans living in the states of Texas, New York, and California all had high home ownership rates that were significantly near or above the general population average.108
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Chinese American men had a full-time median income of $57,061 and Chinese American women had a median income of $47,224. Chinese Americans also have one of the highest median household incomes among most demographic groups in the United States, which is 30% higher than the national average but is slightly lower compared with the Asian American population.25
|Total US Population||$50,046|
Despite positive economic indicators, a number of economic deterrents have been noted to afflict the Chinese American community. While median income remains above some ethnic groups in the United States, studies in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis revealed that Asian men have the highest rate of persistent long-term unemployment.109
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Asian-Americans are the single largest ethnic group among UC's 173,000 undergraduates.
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While Asian Americans are far more likely to attend college and are somewhat more likely to complete it, Asian American college graduates earn slightly less than whites.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chinese Americans.|
- Factfinder Chinese Americans 2005 American Community Survey
- The Rocky Road to Liberty: A Documented History of Chinese American Immigration and Exclusion
- Museum of Chinese in the Americas
- Chinese Culture Center & Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco
- Organization of Chinese Americans
- Chinese Historical Society of America
- "Paper Son" - one Chinese American's story of coming to America under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
- Becoming American: The Chinese Experience a PBS Bill Moyers special. Thomas F. Lennon, Series Producer.
- Chinese American Contribution to Transcontinental Railroad - Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum
- Emerging Information Technology Conference (EITC), organized by several Chinese American organizations
- Famous Chinese Americans Comprehensive list of famous Chinese Americans organized by professions. Includes short biographical notes and Chinese names.
- Chinese Information and Networking Association (CINA)
- Northwest Chinese Professionals Association
- The Yung Wing Project hosts the memoir of the first Chinese American graduate of an American university (Yale 1854).
- Chinese American Museum
- Documentary about the Golden Venture tragedy
- Americans and Chinese : purpose and fulfillment in great civilizations