Asian-Americans Flock to America’s Wealthy Suburbs

Asian-Americans Flock to America’s Wealthy Suburbs

An analysis of data from the 2006-8 American Community Survey shows that Asian-Americans are the fastest growing racial minority in the United States since the 2000 Census. They barely edge out Latinos (34.6% vs. 33.2%) in population growth (albeit from a much smaller base). The population of African-Americans increased a substantial 15.9% while non-Hispanic Whites barely nudged ahead of the 2000 Census figures with a paltry 2.6% increase in population (ACS 2006-8).

Table 1 United States Population Increase 2000 to 2008, by Race

  Population: 2008 Census Estimate Population: 2000 Census Percentage Increase
United States 304,059,724 281,421,906 8.0%
Non-Hispanic Whites 199,491,458 194,514,410 2.6%
Asians 13,549,064 10,067,813 34.6%
African-Americans 39,058,834 33,707,230 15.9%
Latino 46,943,613 35,238,481 33.2%

A picture of Asian-American material success begins to emerge when one examines the median household income growth figures (inflation adjusted) and is further illustrated by the number of households that claim an income of over $200,000.

Table 2 clearly shows that Asian-American households used the beginning of the 21st Century to increase their median household income by 33.0% to $69,047, significantly widening their lead over all other racial categories and nearly doubling the median household income of African-Americans ($35,086).

It is important to note that within the broad category of  “Asian-American”, there are significant different rates of median household income. The 2000 Census found that Indian-Americans had the highest median income ($63,669) followed by Filipinos ($60,570). At the bottom end were the Cambodians ($36,155), the Malaysians ($35,767), and the Hmong ($32,076). Each of these low income ethnic groups are relatively small in number compared to the two largest Asian ethnic groups, Chinese and Indians.

As there are no current income statistics by ethnic group in the ACS, it is impossible to know how they have fared over the last 8 years. My guess is that along with the rest of the country, the 2010 Census will show the greatest gains in personal income going to those already at the top of the distribution.

Table 2  Median Household income Increase 2000-2008, by Race

  Median Household Income: 2006-8 ACS Median Household Income: 2000 Census Percentage Increase
United States $52,175 $41,994 24.2%
Non-Hispanic Whites $56,648 $45,367 24.9%
Asian $69,047 $51,908 33.0%
African-Americans $35,086 $29,423 19.2%
Latinos $41,630 $33,676 23.6%

The +$200,000 Club

The story that the rich have gotten a lot richer over the last twenty years is an old story. The physical proof of wealth pooling at the top is easily seen in the vast expanses of  nouveaux riche McMansions on the periphery of almost any self respecting American metro area. The teardown phenomenon in older wealthy neighborhoods is but another symptom of this increase in high-income households.  American material success, following a well worn path in history,  has a strong penchant for displaying  wealth and prosperity through architecture. Americans aren’t what we eat…. we’re what we live in!

The  increase in the number of American households that claimed an income of over $200,000 between 2000 and the ACS of 2006-8 is stunning. Although the total number of households in the United States increased by 8.0%, the number earning over $200,000 skyrocketed by 88.2%. The number of Asian-Americans earning over that amount increased an incredible 181.5%– a growth rate more than twice the national average and more than 3 1/2 times the growth rate in African-American families (a healthy increase of 48.9%, but lagging considerably behind other racial categories).

Table 3: Number of Households Earning Greater than $200,000, by Race

  Number of Households with Income over $200,000: ACS 2006-2008 Number of Households with Income over $200,000: Census 2000 % Increase
United States 4,710,621 2,502,675 88.2%
Non-Hispanic White 3,994,432 2,165,393 84.5%
Asian 312,228 110,935 181.5%
African-American 152,314 102,287 48.9%
Latino 198,569 95,721 107.4%
Other Races 53,078 28,339 87.3%

Asian-Americans Flock to America’s Wealthiest Suburbs

As the number of high income Asian households increases dramatically, they have moved easily into America’s most elite suburbs as well as many other places that may not be the richest, but extremely comfortable.

Table Four lists 22 well-to-do American suburbs and illustrates the huge increase in the percentage and number of Asian households. These increases are much larger than the Asian-American population growth in general and corresponds to their growing affluence as a racial group.

The vast majority of the 22 wealthy suburbs listed below have experienced modest population growth. Many are geographically landlocked and their slow but steady growth is usually associated with intensified land-use. However. the growth in the Asian population is overall quite remarkable. As can be seen in the table the only place on the list to see a decrease in the Asian population was found in Potomac, Maryland. Note that the decrease is tiny and well within the statistical variance.

Table 4  High Income Places with Large Asian-American Populations

City, Town, or Village ST Median Household Income: 2006-8 ACS Percent Asian: 2006-8 ACS Percent Asian: 2000 Census
United States   $52,175 4.7% 3.6%
Milpitas CA $90,126 60.3% 51.8%
Cupertino CA $125,106 57.1% 44.4%
Fremont CA $94,979 46.8% 37.0%
Saratoga CA $151,734 37.3% 29.1%
Irvine CA $94,903 35.9% 29.8%
North Potomac MD $129,452 32.5% 27.6%
Sugar Land TX $100,783 30.4% 23.8%
West Windsor Township NJ $137,179 30.2% 21.9%
Rancho Palos Verdes CA $111,421 27.4% 21.6%
La Canada Flintridge CA $140,474 25.4% 15.7%
Palo Alto CA $126,741 24.9% 17.2%
Los Altos CA $161,970 20.6% 15.4%
Bridgewater Township NJ $107,382 15.3% 11.0%
Yorba Linda CA $125,553 13.9% 11.1%
Potomac MD $157,254 13.3% 13.4%
Ridgewood NJ $135,419 13.1% 8.5%
Town of North Hempstead NY $102,861 13.0% 9.2%
McLean VA $155,649 12.6% 10.6%
Danville CA $127,426 12.0% 9.0%
Calabasas CA $105,881 11.7% 7.7%
Bernards Township NJ $125,716 11.6% 7.8%
Northbrook IL $116,680 10.7% 8.8%
Town of Greenburgh NY $101,154 10.2% 9.0%

Cupertino, California: An Asian-American Success Story

Cupertino, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. Apple is headquartered in the city and just a short distance from a major Hewlett-Packard complex.Cupertino has joined Milpitas, California as the second Asian majority affluent suburb in the United States. Cupertino may be an insignificant socio-economic notch below Saratoga to the south or Los Altos Hills to the north, but it is very affluent by any American standard. On Dec 5th, 2009,’s valued the typical Cupertino home at $964,700. The schools are superb and Cupertino has extraordinarily high levels of adult education attainment befitting a high tech mecca.  More adults have graduate or professional degrees (41.0%) than measly Bachelors degrees (34.1%)!

Between 2000 and 2006-8 the percentage of Asian households has increased from 44.4% to 57.1%. Cupertino’s Asian population is dominated by two ethnic groups. Chinese-Americans makeup 47.7% of Cupertino’s Asian population and Indian-Americans makeup an additional 32.2% of the Asian population (2006-8 ACS). With majority status comes political power. I will leave it to the Political Scientists to let us know how local power politics are playing out! Better yet, it would be interesting to hear from some Cupertinos (?) as to racial relations in their fair city. Drop a note on my blog!

Map of Cupertino, California

View Cupertino, California in a larger map

Asian Diversity in the Southeastern Bay

Although not geographically part of Silicon Valley, but close by, are two excellent examples of affluent suburbs with large Asian populations: Milpitas and Fremont

Located to the northeast of San Jose, Milpitas’ population is 60.3% Asian, an increase from 51.8% in the 2000 Census. It is interesting that the population of Milpitas has a very diverse Asian population (Filipinos, 30.6% of all Asians; Chinese, 22.9%; Vietnamese, 20.7%; Indian, 18.4%). Milpitas has one Higley 1000 neighborhood that surrounds the Summitpointe Golf Club on the city’s east side.

Fremont,  just north of Milpitas, is a large city (206,241) that has a high median household income ($94.979, ACS) and a large, diverse Asian population that is dominated by Chinese (36.3% of all Asian groups), and Indians (34.1%)… a close second in population (well within the margin or error). The third largest Asian contingent in Fremont is Filipino. They contribute 12.4% of the Asian-American population.

Fremont has three of the four highest percentage Asian neighborhoods in the entire United States in the  Higley 1000 neighborhoods. They are all found in the Mission San Jose district of the city: Mission Hills-Vineyards North, 74.6 % Asian; Cameron Hills South, 63.9% Asian; and Avalon-Vineyards South, 54.2% Asian. It should be noted that Fremont’s highest income neighborhoods are significantly more Asian than the rest of the city.

In both Fremont and Milpitas, the largest percentage increase among Asian population subcategories was clearly seen in American-Indian households. The population increase was significant at 58.4% in Fremont and 66.9% in Milpitas.

Map of Fremont-Milpitas Higley 1000 Neighborhoods (2000)

View Fremont-Milpitas, California in a larger map

In summary, the 2010 Census will give us more concrete numbers and it is my opinion that we will see the estimates of the American Community Survey confirmed: Asian-Americans are flocking to our wealthiest Suburbs in large numbers driven by high levels of education and income.

Posted in General, The US Census on Dec 5th, 2009, 9:23 pm by Stephen Higley   

16 Responses to “Asian-Americans Flock to America’s Wealthy Suburbs”

  1. cynthia curran
    February 6th, 2010 | 5:50 pm

    True, the asian growth in Ca has helped to offset the hispanic growth in terms of income. Take the city of Anaheim, now about 54 percent hispanic an only 13.8 asian. Anahem income is only 56,000. Irvine shown above is about 94,000 and is probably now closer to about 37 percent asian and about 9 percent hispanic.

  2. ForumReader
    March 12th, 2010 | 1:09 pm

    Steve, you are right about asian americans moving to wealthy suburbs however with regards to california, many asian americans have lost wealth due to the housing bubble, additionally while cost of living depends on circumstances, given that asian americans may buy a house, $100,000 is not much at all, additionally many neighborhoods you list have income around that mark, a home that is $800,000 will eat up nearly 40% or more of that income .

    Another point you failed to point out is if the home is expensive, its probably not a “Grand home” or display of material wealth. In Silicon valley $800,000 gets you a mid range 2,200 square foot home, not too bad (the housing bubble made the home more expensive), but not “Grand’.

    I do commend you for touching on the topic, recently there was talk about korean american’s moving to great neck by a friend, alas, that happens to be in north heampstead, which I forgot to double check but confirms your research. I can agree with you though, in parts of Texas and other places , there may be high worth asian americans, many of them prefer to deal with cash only transactions as a cultural thing, but not all, I would say that the california suburbs need to factor in the housing costs though.

  3. Stephen Higley
    March 21st, 2010 | 10:01 am

    The Devil is in the Details, Nolladog… I grant you that a mean household income of $100,000 doesn’t mean much in the higher end of California real estate. However, if you plow through the Methodology section you’ll see that the way the Census collects data severely limits how much a household can claim for an income. For all practical purposes, no household can claim for than about $1 million in income… even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

    I am also aware that $1 million California dollars buys a $250,000 Dallas home.

    You also point out as I have on my site that the 2006-8 American Community Survey was taken pre-Bush Bubble and you are probably correct in that many of the new arrivals in the upper-middle class that tried to leverage their way “in” have probably suffered much more than the secure upper-middle class (which is overwhelmingly Non-Hispanic White).

  4. Christina
    April 22nd, 2010 | 4:48 pm

    I am from Saratoga and I heard that you were interesting in the racial relations of Cupertino. I am 19 years old now and went to public school in Saratoga and I am quite familiar with Cupertino- seeing as it is only a mile away. My elementary school at one time was 80% asian and there was only 1 white boy in my 4th grade class. I would say that in general racial relations are pretty good; however, there is a definite problem with asians and driving. The stereotype really has some truth in it, in fact my neighbor was hit by an Asian woman driver who was wearing a flip down mask (to protect their face from the sun so they don’t tan). My neighbor was in a crosswalk and flew about 15 feet. It is true that the Asians are moving into the area at quite a rapid pace, this term is often coined, “the Asian Invasion”. I have had 4 neighbors who were white move away within the past ten years and everyone of those houses was bought by Asians or Indians. I do like the influence of the Asian culture very much sometimes and I even refer to myself as Asian because of the large influence our 1st and 2nd generation peers have played on us. The city is changing and Asian shopping centers are going up everywhere. In fact, In the past year our Nob Hill turned into a Maxim Market.
    I would like to point out something that I didn’t hear you mention. The Asian influence in Cupertino is increasing due to one reason- the school system. Cupertino and Saratoga are two of the best public school districts in the area and probably the state. That is a huuuuuge part of why the homes are so expensive. I have heard of families buying a modest house in Cupertino and then after their kids graduate they move to Milpitas and buy a mansion (in comparison) for the same price. Thank you for the article, I was glad to see some statistics on the issue. Now that I go to college and try to explain to people exactly how large the Asian influence is they don’t believe me but now I have proof. If there are anymore questions I can answer about Cupertino or Saratoga let me know.

  5. rohin
    July 18th, 2010 | 6:07 pm

    I am still not happy that Chinese seem to outnumber Indians. CHINA= strategic enemy of USA, INDIA= friend.

    Our immigrants stats should reflect that.

  6. Cadence
    September 22nd, 2010 | 12:11 am

    So far a fascinating read, I’ve never known too much about where all the rich people in this country hang out except the obvious places like the Hamptons or whatever. It’s even more interesting to see the racial breakdown by location…it almost makes me want to pay more attention to the color of the people I see outside their homes in the neighborhoods I pass through every day, just for curiosity’s sake…and then scrutinize the neighborhoods themselves to see what economic bracket I THINK they might fit in. Naturally, this being Alabama I don’t think I’ll see more than just whites and blacks, but hey it’s interesting nonetheless.

  7. demopublican
    September 26th, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    I don’t know any better, but China as a country is a competitor just like Germany, Saudi Arabia, Mexico or Britain. It’s just we see it as a threat since they are powerful enough to *not* be manipulated.

    As for the Chinese people, they are not an enemy. Chinese immigrants have been in the US since the 1800’s and have helped built the great infrastructure we take for grant today here.

    Aside from that–this is great findings, and what *is* interesting is it appears all minorities take a fairly equal stake (between 8-12%) in rising into the affluent ‘social classes’–I would expand your research by correlating your findings with our civil rights/EEO initiatives, since those laws try to treat every race equally (hence why your numbers show a consistent spread otherwise).

  8. Stephen Higley
    September 27th, 2010 | 9:33 am

    My tone throughout my site is that I highly approve of racial integration. I believe it makes the United States a much richer nation from a cultural sense to see success beyond the WASP elite.

  9. January 22nd, 2011 | 1:34 am

    Wow!! I really like what you are doing! I want to relook at display toaster! Informative and fascinating post!!! maintain it up..

  10. January 24th, 2011 | 10:26 am

    “`* I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information .,,

  11. cha
    June 19th, 2011 | 4:54 pm

    love living around asians respectful,polite, peaceful,educated, quite, hardworking, clean, safe give me an asian niegborhood any day no problem.Plus they increase the value of a niegborhood.Love them.

  12. Stephen Higley
    June 22nd, 2011 | 10:18 am

    I hesitate to post this comment because it is full of stereotypes. Asian-Americans come in all kinds of desirable and undesirable varieties just like the rest of us….

  13. Ming
    June 6th, 2012 | 1:03 am

    In response to robin…

    rohin July 18th, 2010 | 6:07 pm
    I am still not happy that Chinese seem to outnumber Indians. CHINA= strategic enemy of USA, INDIA= friend.
    Our immigrants stats should reflect that.

    Many of the ‘Chinese’ in Cupertino or in US have ‘Chinese’ heritage; however, very high percentages of us are not from communist China, but from democratic Taiwan, or Hong Kong before it became part of China. Unfortunately we all got lump as ‘Chinese’….when we really are NOT…..

  14. Alan Gregg Cohen
    December 14th, 2012 | 3:14 am

    I used to live in Saratoga near the border of Cupertino in the early 1990’s when I believe the Asian population of Cupertino was less than 50% and Saratoga’s Asian population was about 25%. Interestingly, the town of Los Gatos, just to the southeast of Saratoga had a very small Asian population, and was propably 90% non-hispanic white at the time. I don’t know why Los Gatos had so few Asians since it was equally if not more affluent than Cupertino, and shared an even higher regarded high school with the southern half of Saratoga, Los Gatos H.S., as part of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District. The northern half of Saratoga is part of the Fremont Union High School District as is Cupertino. The northeast part of Saratoga was zoned to Lynbrook H.S. which served a neighborhood to the south and east of Cupertino, known as West San Jose. The northwest portion of Saratoga was zoned to Monta Vista H.S. which also served large parts of Cupertino. At that time it was a given that if you owned a home in Saratoga zoned to Lynbrook H.S. with the similar attributes to a home zoned to Los Gatos H.S., the home zoned to Los Gatos H.S. would be worth substantially more, since the school distict was considered more desirable. I had read this in a national magazine, which unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the publication. The point being made of the importance of the school distict to the value of homes. I just checked the 2010 census figures and Los Gatos was reported as being 81.8% White and 10.95% Asian with a median income of $126,568 as of 2007. As of 2010, Saratoga was reported being 53.9% White and 41.4% Asian. In the 2000 census Saratoga was reported being 67.39% white and 29.08% Asian, and a median income of $137,270. It certainly appears that Saratoga’s Asian community is rapidly growing and it’s White population is diminishing at an even quicker rate, yet the affluence of the community remains unchanged. When I checked Los Gatos’ 2000 census figures I found it was reported as being 86.68% White and 7.6% Asian. It’s population although changing, is losing substantially less Whites and gaining only a minimal amount of Asians during the same period. It is amazing to me how such similar affluent suburban neighbors have gone through such different rates of racial change. Lastly, Cupertino’s 2010 population consists of 31.3% White and 63.3% Asian with a median income (as of 2007) of $118,635. Although Los Gatos and Cupertino have most differences racially, it is interesting to note that econocically they are most similar, with their median incomes being only $7933 apart. It would be intesting to examine why Los Gatos hasn’t undergone more integration and why Cupertino is segregating into an Asian majority community, with Saratoga following on it’s coattails.

  15. Alan Gregg Cohen
    December 16th, 2012 | 10:51 pm

    Interestingly, another town you listed with high percentages of high income Asian-American is North Hempstead, NY. I grew up as a child living adjacent to North Hempstead, which is a sprawling bedroom community located on the North Shore of Long Island in Nassau County, just to the east of the Queens County border and the New York City line. It is a town that is comprised of both numerous incorporated villages and unicorporated areas referred to as “hamlets” by New York State. Many but not all of the villages and hamlets are upper class and upper middle class, but there are several areas which are just plain middle class communities. One of the main streets that run through the length of North Hempstead is Northern Boulevard, which connects the town to the nearby northeastern Queens neighborborhoods of Little Neck, Bayside and Flushing. Interestingly, Flushing has transitioned within the last 20 years as New York’s second largest Chinatown, and also includes substantial Korean, Indian and other Asian communities. Northern Boulevard has become a strip of Korean owned business’ running from Main Street, Flushing into North Hempstead. As many in the Asian community have become increasingly upwardly mobile, they have been moving from Flushing and northeastern Queens into neighboring Nassau County, and in particular, into the town of North Hempstead. One North Hempstead hamlet that has seen a substantial increase in it’s Asian population is Searingtown, an upper middle class suburban hamlet that lies within the Roslyn, NY Post Office and the Herricks Union Free School District. As of the 2000 Census, Searingtown was 69.77% White and 25.86% Asian with a median income of $120,546. (Unfortunately, I could not find 2010 Census figures). The Herricks School District is highly regarded, and appears to be a major deciding factor for the Asians moving to Searingtown. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I know Herricks School District has a highly diversified student body with Asian students comprising a substantial proportion of the student body. It would be interesting to know what the current numbers are, as well as the current population brakdowns for the hamlet, which is a census designated place (CDP).

  16. Alan Gregg Cohen
    December 17th, 2012 | 9:32 pm

    I was able to find 2010 Census Data for Searingtown, NY. As of the 2010 census, Searington was 60% White and 35% Asian. From the 2000 census numbers that is an approximately 10% drop in the White population and an increase of almost 10% in the Asian population in the hamlet of Searingtown.

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