National Survey Data Shows Nearly 3 Out Of Every 4 Chinese Americans Have Experienced Racial Discrimination In The Past 12 Months
New York, NY (August 2, 2023) – After releasing its executive summary in April, Columbia University’s School of Social Work, one of the world’s leading research universities, and Committee of 100, a non-profit membership organization of prominent Chinese Americans, today announced that the full report “The Fight for Representation: The State of Chinese Americans 2022” is now available.
The more than 60-page report summarizes a year-long research project and survey on the critical health, economic, and sociopolitical conditions of today’s Chinese American population. The research has been led by Dr. Qin Gao, Professor and Director of the China Center for Social Policy at Columbia University School of Social Work. Jennifer So, a doctoral student at Columbia University, Samuel Collitt, a researcher at Committee of 100, and Stacie Tao, also a doctoral student at Columbia University, co-authored the report and helped spearhead the research project.
The first and largest project of its kind, the “State of Chinese Americans” survey gathered information from nearly 6,500 participants from across the United States, compiling data related to demographics, politics, cultural identity, health, economic security, and social engagement. This research effort was supported by over 100 Chinese American and allied organizations nationwide, who shared the survey with community members in English, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese.
This survey project examines three main research questions: What are the demographic characteristics of Chinese Americans regarding birthplace, place of upbringing, languages spoken at home, English language proficiency, and cultural identity? What are the political opinions and levels of engagement among Chinese Americans? Lastly, what are the health and economic status and needs of Chinese Americans. In addition to quantitative data, the report also features quotes from study participants who shared their experiences.
Collecting disaggregated, accurate, and timely data on Chinese Americans will help inform policymakers and the public on the diverse set of opinions, perceptions, and needs of Chinese Americans across the country. This will enable key decision-makers to develop timely and responsive policies, programs, and services to address those needs.
Racism against Chinese Americans continues. While the overwhelming majority of survey respondents see themselves as an accepted part of American society, culturally blended between American and Chinese traditions, they are also marginalized. They have experienced discrimination in their daily lives with:
- Nearly 3 out of 4 (74%) respondents having experienced racial discrimination or racism-related vigilance in the past 12 months;
- 55% worry about their safety relating to hate crimes or harassment;
- 9% having been physically intimidated/assaulted and 7% having had property vandalized/damaged.
The overwhelming majority of Chinese American citizens vote. They care deeply about issues facing the U.S. society, and they want better relations and more collaboration between the U.S. and China, including:
- The overwhelming majority (83%) of survey respondents are registered voters, and of those registered voters, 88% voted in the 2020 presidential election;
- Racism, gun control, the economy, and crime were identified as the top four most important issues facing the U.S. according to respondents;
- Most respondents (82%) agreed that the U.S. should build a collaborative economic relationship with China.
Chinese Americans are not homogenous. While often stereotyped as a “model minority,” many face disadvantages or hardships in health and economics and need better support from policies and services, including:
- Nearly one in four (24%) respondents state they are at moderate or severe risk when asked about their psychological distress, including feeling worthless, depressed, hopeless, restless, nervous, or that everything was an effort;
- Nearly a quarter (24%) reported either fair or poor physical or mental health, or having one or more types of disability;
- Nearly a quarter (23%) reported experiencing some form of medical disadvantage or economic hardship in the past 12 months.
Law enforcement, elected officials, educators, and government agencies should consider and act upon the following recommendations to help the Chinese American community:
To promote greater equity and inclusion of Chinese Americans:
- Incorporate or expand Asian American history lessons across all levels of education, from K-12 to higher education, to help Americans understand the diverse accomplishments, contributions, and challenges of Chinese and Asian American populations;
- Allocate or increase funding for language access to provide Chinese Americans with low English proficiency with equal access to the same level of services and opportunities as English-speaking individuals;
- Establish clear guidelines on addressing and responding proactively to reports of anti-Asian hate and discrimination.
To increase levels of political engagement and reduce the negative impact of contentious political rhetoric and strained U.S.-China relations on the lives of Chinese Americans:
- Increase get-out-the-vote efforts and political mobilization of Chinese Americans, especially at the grassroots level to increase political participation of groups whose voices tend to be less heard and who tend to turn out at lower rates: younger, lower income, less educated, and less English-proficient groups;
- Actively discourage and speak up against inflammatory and derogatory language in discussion of U.S.-China relations, which has a direct and negative impact on the lives of Chinese Americans;
- Establish and increase opportunities to encourage more in-depth, meaningful conversations about political and civic engagement issues among Chinese Americans and across different racial or ethnic groups to enhance mutual understanding and respect.
To address the health and economic needs of Chinese Americans:
- Provide public assistance and health care services in various languages and dialects to support Chinese Americans with limited English proficiency to receive the economic support and medical services they need;
- Raise visibility and facilitate discussions of disadvantages and hardships among the Chinese American community to improve awareness and dismantle model minority stereotypes;
- Increase the number of bilingual, culturally-competent Chinese and Asian American mental health and social work professionals.
The State of Chinese Americans Survey questionnaire included 77 questions across six modules: demographics, racial and cultural background, health, economic activities and insecurity, social engagement, and political engagement. Two open-ended questions in the survey asked respondents to describe their experience with racial discrimination and coping mechanisms, and the impact of U.S.-China relations in their daily lives. The nationwide survey was conducted online in English, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese, and invited the participation of all adults self-identifying of Chinese-ethnic origin and living in the United States. No incentives were provided for survey participation.
Study participants were recruited through community outreach in partnership with more than 100 organizations throughout the country. This study used a non-probability sampling method with targeted subgroup recruitment efforts focusing on a set of key demographic characteristics for diverse representation. Special efforts were made to recruit participants in geographical areas where Chinese Americans are underrepresented. To ensure sufficient sample sizes for the harder-to-reach individuals with lower levels of income, education, and English proficiency, roughly one-third of the partner organizations were specialized in community engagement, resource provision, and housing. The remaining two-thirds were affiliated with advocacy, commerce, culture, religion, and various professions.
After data collection was completed, statistical weights were created using the post-stratification raking method. The raking method is commonly used in survey research to adjust for nonresponse and sampling biases. The method involved calibrating the sample statistics so that the sample approximates the national Chinese American population on the known distribution of key demographic characteristics including gender, age, education level, English proficiency, U.S. citizenship, income level, and census region based on the 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates. All results reported are with the statistical weights applied.
Columbia University and Committee of 100 are proud to have partnered with over 100 community, professional, and advocacy organizations across the country in rolling out this survey. Additionally, the research team completed a successful pilot study of the survey last summer, with the help of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Chinese American Women in Action, the Community Youth Center of San Francisco, and the U.S. Heartland China Association.
Committee of 100 and Columbia University would like to thank each of the partners who helped distribute the survey to their respective audiences to help gain responses.
1990 Institute, Alliance for Families with Developmental Needs, Asian American Donors Program, Asian American Government Executives Network, AsAmNews, Asian American Women Artists Association, BeChinatown, Biing-Huei Su, The Carter Center, Chicago Chinese Forum, The China Project, Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Boston, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Portland, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Seattle, Chinese American Citizens Alliance National, Chinese American Museum DC, Chinese American Pioneer Heritage Committee, Chinese American Women in Action, Chinese American Heritage Foundation, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc., Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Columbia Business School, Community Youth Center of San Francisco, Deloitte, Friends of Children with Special Needs, George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, Henry Tom, Institute for China-America Studies, Kaiming Head Start, Museum of Chinese in America, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates National, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates San Diego, Overseas Student Service Corp., Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, UCI Chinese Alumni Chapter, UCSF Asian Health Initiative, United States Heartland China Association, The U.S.-China Perception Monitor, World Journal, Wu Yee Children’s Services.
1882 Foundation, Alliance of MN Chinese Organizations, API Council, Asia Society, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Asian Columbia Alumni Association, Asian American Business Development Center, Asian American Unity Coalition, Asian Pacific American Libraries Association, Asian Real Estate Association of America, Asian Women for Health, Asians Fighting Injustice, Association of Asian American Investment Managers, Association of Chinese American Scientists and Engineers, Brooklyn Public Library, CAAM Chinese Dance Theater, Cal Alumni Association, Carlsbad Chinese-American Club, Chinatown Partnership, Chinese Adoptee Alliance, Chinese American Association for Autistic Community, Chinese American Association of Lexington, Chinese American Association of Minnesota, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Houston, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Las Vegas, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Oakland, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – San Antonio, Chinese American Citizens Alliance – San Francisco, Chinese American Community Health Services, Chinese American History Group, Chinese American WWII Veterans, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association NY, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association Georgia, Chinese Health Initiative of San Mateo County, Chinese Historical Society of America, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Colorado Asian Pacific United, Crossings TV, DC Talk Story, Global China Connection, Greater Austin Asian Chamber, Hope Chinese School, Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association, KTSF 26 News, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Monte Jade West, NAPABA, New York Chinese Cultural Center, New Jersey Chinese-American Chamber of Commerce, Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu, South Coast Chinese Cultural Association, South Cove Community Health Center, The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), University of Minnesota China Center, Upper Manhattan Asian American Alliance, US-China Business Council, US-China Peoples Friendship Association–Minnesota Chapter, Utah Chinese Association, Veterans for Peace, You May US.
Committee of 100 and Columbia University are grateful for the participation and support of the Advisory Group members on this project, whose knowledge and expertise across the fields of academia and civic engagement served to guide the project’s development and implementation:
- Gordon H. Chang, Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities, Professor of History, History Department, Stanford University
- Albert Chao, President and CEO, Westlake Corporation
- Anne Shen Chao, Adjunct Lecturer in Humanities, Rice University
- Anla Cheng, Founder and Chair, The China Project
- Deborah Davis, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Yale University
- Wang Feng, Professor of Sociology, University of California Irvine
- Kenneth Fong, Founder and Chairman, Kenson Ventures, LLC
- Irwin Garfinkel, Mitchell I. Ginsberg Professor Emeritus of Contemporary Urban Problems in the Faculty of Social Work, Columbia University
- Eugenia Lean, Professor of East Asian Languages and Culture and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Columbia University
- David Lei, Board Chair, Chinese Performing Arts Foundation
- Ida Liu, Global Head, Citi Private Bank
Committee of 100 and Columbia University would like to thank Kenson Ventures, LLC and Citi Private Bank as the two lead sponsors on this research.
About Columbia University
Columbia University is one of the world’s most important institutions in higher education. It has 17 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, four affiliated colleges and seminaries in Manhattan, and a wide array of research institutes and global centers around the world. More than 40,000 students, award-winning faculty, and professional staff define the University’s underlying values and commitment to pursuing new knowledge and educating informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Visit https://www.columbia.edu.
About Columbia University School of Social Work
Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW) is a top-ranked school and the first social work school established in the United States. Since 1898, Columbia faculty and alumni have played a leading role in advancing the field of social work through scholarly and professional contributions. Visit https://socialwork.columbia.edu.
CSSW is one of 17 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, four affiliated colleges and seminaries in Manhattan, and a wide array of research institutes and global centers around the world. More than 40,000 students, award-winning faculty, and professional staff define the University’s underlying values and commitment to pursuing new knowledge and educating informed, engaged citizens.
About the Columbia China Center for Social Policy
The China Center for Social Policy is a hub for innovation, collaboration, and action on human well-being and social policy in China and among Chinese Americans. The center pursues a dual mission of research and education by generating impactful scholarship and preparing the next generation of scholars and practitioners. Visit https://chinacenter.socialwork.columbia.edu.
About Committee of 100
Committee of 100 is a non-profit U.S. leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, healthcare, and the arts focused on public policy engagement, civic engagement, and philanthropy. For over 30 years, Committee of 100 has served as a preeminent organization committed to the dual missions of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life and constructive relations between the United States and Greater China. Visit https://www.committee100.org.
Connect with Columbia University and Committee of 100 on LinkedIn and Twitter:
Twitter: @ColumbiaSSW @Columbia @china_columbia
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Committee of 100