2017: Our Year in Data

In 2017, Data Bits published about two dozen articles on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through the lens of data. This included our “Why Disaggregate?” series, which looked at the critical need for data disaggregation for AAPIs in discussions around poverty, education, language access, income, and health.

We expanded our contributor base to include data-savvy high school students like Jason Fong, who reported that almost 90% of Asian Americans and over 70% of Pacific Islanders begin college in one of California’s public community colleges or four-year universities—not at elite colleges, where attention is often directed for AAPI college students.

And during the height of the Affordable Care Act repeal debate, we reported that not only have AAPIs benefited from the ACA, but a majority of AAPIs across subgroups continue to support Obamacare.

We found that the 2016 presidential election saw a record increase in voting for Asian Americans. Between 2012 and 2016, nearly double the average increase of new Asian American voters entered the electorate, at 1.14 million new voters. There were also record gains in voter registration and voter turnout—despite overall low voting rates among adult Asian Americans compared to white and black voters.

We addressed the strong support for environmentalism among Asian Americans, wrote about the low levels of support for President Donald Trump among Indian Americans, and published a piece by Professor Oiyan Poon about the need for disaggregated ethnicity data for AAPIs.

The end of the DACA program continues to threaten undocumented youth in the United States, including undocumented AAPIs. We revealed that 1 out of every 7 Asian immigrants are undocumented, with 1.7 million undocumented Asian Americans living in the United States. Within the last 15 years, the population of Asian undocumented has more than tripled, growing at a faster rate than for other immigrant groups.

High school student contributors also analyzed the Asian American vote, the barriers to participation, and argued why it’s so important for Asian Americans to be engaged civically. We discussed the Trump administration’s proposed immigration plans and its impact on Asian American families, and what specific proposals like the RAISE Act would do to immigrant households.

We highlighted the disparities in educational attainment among Southeast Asian Americans, finding that Southeast Asian Americans have the lowest high school graduation and bachelor degree rates—lower than both black and Latinos. We responded to racist campaign mailers distributed in Edison, New Jersey, noting that nearly half of the township’s residents are Asian.

Our contributors this year also included community leaders who wrote about getting out the AAPI vote in the 2017 elections. This year’s elections also saw a demonstrated growth in AAPI political power, with AAPIs winning elected office up and down the ballot and playing a critical role in key elections around the country.

Data Bits rounded out the year with discussions on the importance of taxes as an issue for Asian Americans—and the potential impacts that the tax reform legislation may have on vote choice. We examined who “counts” as Asian American and the continued erasure of South Asians in the Asian American narrative. And we shed light on differences between Asian American communities in different parts of the country.

Finally, our work was also found outside of Data Bits this year, including major media mentions. In the LA Times, our Director Karthick Ramakrishnan and Professor Jennifer Lee looked at the under-representation of Asian Americans in executive positions in Silicon Valley. CNN ran an oped by Ramakrishnan about how data disaggregation can help debunk the “model minority myth,” and our work was referenced in NPR in the debate over data disaggregation. The Washington Post also cited AAPI Data in a piece about undocumented Asian Americans.

AAPI Data has exciting things in store for 2018, in our ongoing quest to make research and data on AAPIs more visible and accessible—stay tuned!