Largest Survey of Chinese Americans Ever Completed
By Columbia University and Committee of 100 On Issues Related To Politics, Cultural Identity, Health, Economic Security, and Social Engagement
New York, NY (April 27, 2023) – 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 the results from a year-long research project and survey that looked at the health, economic, and sociopolitical conditions of today’s Chinese American population.
The first and largest project of its kind, the “State of Chinese Americans” survey gathered information from nearly 6,500 participants from across the U.S., compiling data related to demographics, politics, cultural identity, health, economic security, and social engagement. The research effort was supported by over 100 Chinese American and allied organizations nationwide, who shared the survey with community members in English, traditional Chinese, and simplified Chinese.
Collecting disaggregated, accurate and comprehensive 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.
Key findings from the “State of Chinese Americans” survey report:
Racism against Chinese Americans continues. While the overwhelming majority of Chinese Americans 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%) Chinese Americans having experienced racial discrimination in the past 12 months;
- 55% worrying about their safety relating to hate crimes or harassment;
- 9% having been physically intimidated/assaulted and 7% having had property vandalized/damaged;
- Nearly half of the survey respondents (46%) reported being treated with less respect than other people at least a few times in the past 12 months;
- 1 in 5 reported that people made a racial slur, called them a name, or harassed them in person or online at least a few times in the past 12 months.
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 Chinese American citizens are registered voters, and 91% of registered voters voted in the 2020 presidential election;
- Racism, crime, gun control, and the economy 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;
- The economy and trade were identified as the two top areas for mutual benefit from U.S.-China collaboration efforts.
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%) Chinese Americans are at moderate or severe risk of mental illness 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;
- 10% reported a household income below $15k and 9% reported experiencing food or bills hardship in the past 12 months.
“The Chinese American population is one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the United States, yet it remains underrepresented in politics and policy, and underserved in healthcare, education, and social services,” noted Gary Locke, Committee of 100 Chair, Former U.S. Ambassador to China, and current President of Bellevue College in Washington. “This important collaboration between Committee of 100 and Columbia University brings a critical and deeper understanding of the real experiences of Chinese Americans, not the stereotypical assumptions assigned to a ‘model minority’ group. Moreover, it highlights that this is a group that is both politically active and engaged. These findings are certain to influence economic, social, and political policies to help improve the well-being of the entire Chinese American community.”
“As Dean of the Columbia School of Social Work, says Dr. Melissa Begg, I often reflect on the fact that much suffering is caused by policies that we have ourselves created; but if we created these policies, then we can fix them. This initiative has deepened our understanding of the many challenges faced by Chinese Americans today - including experiences of discrimination and risk of mental illness. These critically important findings now make it possible for us to create clear and informed policy - policy that leads to equity. I want to thank the Committee of 100 for their partnership, as well as the researchers involved in this study, led by Dr. Qin Gao, for focusing on an extremely important topic.”
“These survey results are the outcome of more than a year of collaboration between researchers from the China Center for Social Policy at Columbia University School of Social Work, Committee of 100, inputs from a stellar advisory group and contributions from more than 100 community organizations across the country,” said Dr. Qin Gao, Professor and Director of the China Center for Social Policy at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and lead researcher on this project. “This innovative approach, which allowed us to survey local and hard-to-reach communities, enabled us to obtain a large, diverse national sample of the Chinese-American community. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such distinguished colleagues to help shed light on the unique challenges and opportunities facing Chinese Americans and to inform policy and practice that can help this community thrive.”
Zhengyu Huang, President of Committee of 100 noted, “This collaboration with Columbia University marks the first in what I hope will be a long partnership in gathering and analyzing quality data related to the Chinese American community. The findings from this survey are certain to influence many conversations around the power of disaggregated data. For example, the vast majority of Chinese Americans believe that the U.S. should work to find ways to collaborate with China on economic issues. The majority of them see the current U.S.-China relationship as negative and needing improvement. As we delve more deeply into the data in the coming weeks and months, I am confident that the findings will have real impact in our efforts to work towards a more inclusive and equitable society for all.”
Additional Survey Findings
- Nearly 40% reported speaking two or more languages at home, with 80% being English proficient;
- Over half of the sample were born in Mainland China and over a quarter (27%) were born in the U.S., but the percentages of those who specified Mainland China and the United States as a place of upbringing were similar (44% and 41%);
- 79% viewed current U.S.-China relations as negative, and negativity grew with increasing educational attainment.
To read the executive summary and view the data slides, click here.
On Thursday, April 27 from 7:00-8:30 PM Eastern, the results of the survey will be discussed during an online panel event open to the public. Free registration for “The Fight for Representation: The State of Chinese Americans Survey” can be found here.
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. Given the lack of a complete and reliable national sampling frame of Chinese Americans, 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 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