1 of every 4 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders affected overall, 1 of every 10 so far in 2021

BY KARTHICK RAMAKRISHNAN, JANELLE WONG, JENNIFER LEE, SARA SADHWANI, AND SUNNY SHAO

Ten percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander adults have experienced hate crimes and hate incidents in 2021, according to a March 2021 study by SurveyMonkey and AAPI Data. These rates were higher than the national average of 6 percent. Similarly, 12 percent of Asian Americans and 10 percent of Pacific Islanders experienced hate incidents in 2020, compared to a national average of 8 percent. With about 18 million AAPI adult residents in the United States, these survey findings suggest that millions of AAPIs have experienced hate incidents since the onset of COVID-19.

Here are more details about the survey, and how we derived our estimates. The 2021 American Experiences with Discrimination Survey was conducted online by SurveyMonkey between March 18 and March 26, with adult residents of the United States based on SurveyMonkey’s proprietary panel and supplementary panels of Asian American and Pacific Islander respondents chosen from trusted vendors. Overall, 16,336 respondents took the survey, including 1,831 Asian American, 186 Pacific Islander, 9,811 White, 1,848 Black, 1,278 Hispanic/Latino, 265 Native American, and 361 Multiracial, respondents, plus 756 who self-identified as some other race.

The survey data are weighted to correct for biases in the proportion of respondents by race, ethnicity, geography, gender, nativity, age, and educational attainment of respondents when compared to the 2018 American Community Survey. Our population estimates are derived by multiplying the weighted survey estimates by the total number of Asian American adults (17.2 million) and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander adults (985,000). In our survey, 10.2 percent of Asian American adults and 10.0 percent of NHPI adults indicated that they had experienced a hate crime or hate incident in 2021. This compares to the national average of 5.8 percent in 2021.

Specifically, respondents were asked “Have you ever been a victim of a hate crime? That is, have you ever had someone verbally or physically abuse you, or damage your property specifically because of your race or ethnicity?” If they answered “Yes,” then they were asked three additional questions on whether they experienced hate crimes or hate incidents “before the coronavirus pandemic in 2020,” “last year, in 2020,” and “this year, in 2021.” All questions are available here with interactive toplines by race/ethnicity.

Overall, about one in four Asian Americans (27%) and Pacific Islanders (24%) indicate prior experiences with hate crimes or hate incidents, compared to the national average of 22 percent.

Less severe acts of racial discrimination and microaggression also show elevated levels among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

  • Having people ask “where [are] you from, assuming it’s not from the U.S.” was much higher for Asian Americans (64%) and Pacific Islanders (51%) than the national average (20%), and among non-Hispanic Whites (7%)
  • Being “encouraged to Americanize or Whiten one’s name” was also significantly higher for Pacific Islanders (27%) and Asian Americans (20%) than the national average (7%)
  • Pacific Islanders (41%) and Asian Americans (31%) are also more likely than the national average (22%) and non-Hispanic Whites (17%) to have people “intentionally mispronounce” their name
  • Pacific Islanders (24%) are significantly more likely than Asian Americans (10%) or Americans more generally (10%) to be spit or coughed upon
Infographic - Where Are you From
SurveyMonkey and AAPI Data, 2021

Black people and Latinx respondents also show elevated levels on many of these, and other acts of racial harassment, discrimination, and microaggressions. There are also internal variations by nativity, gender, and age that suggest important differences in who is likely to report hate incidents to community hotlines and law enforcement authorities (analysis forthcoming).

Finally, although some prominent elected officials in the U.S. placed the blame on China for spreading the virus, the survey results indicate that Asian Americans across the board experienced racially-motivated abuse or property damage, regardless of whether they were of Chinese origin. While those of East Asian national origin, like Chinese, Japanese and Korean Americans reported the highest levels of abuse or property damage (43%), respondents of Southeast-Asian-origin, including Vietnamese and Cambodians, reported nearly equal levels (42%) and those of South Asian origin (e.g. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan) also reported higher levels than (27%) than the overall U.S. sample.

 

Methodology: This SurveyMonkey poll was conducted online March 18-25, 2021 among a total sample of 16,336 adults ages 18 and over, including 2,017 Asian or Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders living in the United States. Respondents for these surveys were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.  SurveyMonkey used a third-party panel provider to obtain additional sample with quotas for Asian or Asian American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander respondents. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 1.5 and for the following subgroups: Asian American or Pacific Islander +/-  3.5 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, citizenship status, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. An additional smoothing parameter for political party identification based on aggregates of SurveyMonkey research surveys is included.

The survey was conducted in English-only.  This limitation biases the sample toward Asian Americans who are U.S. born and English-dominant. Importantly, the majority of Asian Americans in the survey reported speaking a language other than English in their homes.  Further, past studies, including the 2016 National Asian American Survey, show that U.S. born Asian Americans are more, not less, likely than their foreign-born counterparts to report experiences with discrimination in a survey context. As such, we can be fairly confident that the results above do not underrepresent reported experiences with discrimination.

Notes on Population Data

According to the latest American Community Survey data (2019, 1-year estimate), the United States currently has

  • 17.2 million Asian American adults (alone or in combination with other races)
  • 984,995 NHPI adults (alone or in combination or in combination with other races)
  • 17.9 million AAPI (alone or in combination; with those identifying both as AA and NHPI combo excluded from double-counting)

When expanding to residents of all ages, the same data reveal

  • 22.4 million Asian Americans (alone or in combination with other races)
  • 1.4 million NHPI (alone or in combination or in combination with other races)
  • 23.3 million AAPI (alone or in combination; with those identifying both as AA and NHPI combo excluded from double-counting)

The authors are all researchers at AAPI Data. Contact information and bios here.