In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Asian-American Youth

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Special Issues of Journals
  • History of Asian American Immigration
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Culture and Acculturation
  • Growing Up American
  • Racial Discrimination and Stereotypes
  • Ethnic Identity
  • Ethnic Church and Religiosity
  • LGBT Asian American Youth
  • Services for Asian American Youth and Families

Social Work Asian-American Youth
Yoonsun Choi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0143


Although they are one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, Asian Americans and their children remain one of the least understood. Filling this vacuum are stereotypes and prejudices, the most widespread of which portrays them as model minorities who made it in this land of opportunity. They are also often lumped together despite their diversity, which significantly hinders accurate understanding of this growing group of Americans. Several characteristics of Asian Americans, especially those of the parent generation, are critical to understanding Asian American youth: the socioeconomic status (SES) of family, culture of origin and acculturation level, and refugee status. These characteristics are important predictors of youth developmental outcomes and differ significantly across subgroups. The distribution of SES is almost bimodal among subgroups. For example, 2010 census data show that more than 60 percent of immigrant adults from India and Taiwan, but fewer than 5 percent of those from Cambodia and Laos, reported having college degrees. Occupation and income levels show similarly bifurcated patterns, with Chinese, Asian Indian, Korean, Japanese, and Filipinos at the upper level, and other groups at the lower level. The majority of parents of Asian American youth are recent immigrants who migrated since 1965. For example, despite a long history of immigration, Chinese Americans comprise notably more first- and second-generation immigrants than third or later generations. An exception is Japanese Americans, who are primarily third or later generations. The varying length of US residence results in diversity in acculturation level, but, given that the majority is recently immigrant, it is safe to say that Asian American youth primarily live in the cultural context of their families’ origin. Unlike their parents, the majority of Asian American youth are 1.5 or second generation. The term “1.5 generation” refers to those who immigrated during adolescence. Thus, the younger generation whose schooling and socialization have occurred mainly in United States is establishing an ethnic and cultural identity that is distinct from that of their parents. Interracial relationships and marriages are common among the younger generation, with the rate being highest among racial groups. Over 30 percent of all married Asian Americans and two-thirds of US-born Asians (disproportionately women) are interracially married. The younger generation is also culturally more integrated into the mainstream than their parents. This new trend is likely to change the characteristics and dynamics of the Asian American community in significant ways.

General Overviews

Waters, et al. 2007 provides an overview of immigration since 1965. Zhou and Gatewood 2000 and Min 2006 are introductions to Asian Americans. All three books would be excellent introductory textbooks for undergraduate and graduate courses on immigration and Asian Americans. Although Uba 1994 and Kurasaki, et al. 2002 specifically focus on mental health, chapters in both books address a range of cultural, social, and familial issues pertinent to Asian Americans and their adaptation. Kurasaki, et al. 2002 adds guidelines for culturally appropriate practices as well as research.

  • Kurasaki, Karen S., Sumie Okazaki, and Stanley Sue, eds. 2002. Asian American mental health: Assessment theories and methods. New York: Kluwer Academic-Plenum.

    Claimed to be a state-of-the-art compendium of the conceptual issues, empirical literature, methodological approaches and practice guidelines for conducting culturally informed assessment of Asian Americans and for assessing provider cultural competency. This book is appropriate for graduate courses that teach cultural competence and culturally appropriate interventions.

  • Min, Pyong Gap, ed. 2006. Asian Americans: Contemporary trends and issues. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

    Describes background and major issues specific to some subgroups of Asian Americans. Also provides a shared history and contemporary trends among Asians as an aggregated group.

  • Uba, Laura. 1994. Asian Americans: Personality patterns, identity and mental health. New York: Guilford.

    This book synthesizes an extensive body of research on Asian American personality development, identity, and mental health, focusing on how ethnocultural factors interact with minority group status to shape the experiences of members of diverse Asian American groups.

  • Waters, Mary C., Reed Ueba, and Helen Marrow, eds. 2007. The new Americans: A guide to immigration since 1965. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

    This general guidebook provides a critical review of global historical perspective, US immigration control policy, citizenship and nationality policy, unauthorized migration and refugees, ethnic identity, and intermarriage and multiple identities. Also provides several chapters on specific subgroups of immigrants, including Asian Americans.

  • Zhou, Min, and James V. Gatewood. 2000. Contemporary Asian America. New York: New York Univ. Press.

    Written to be used as a textbook for courses on Asian Americans and Asian American studies and as general reading for those interested in Asian Americans, this book offers an impressive collection of topics important to Asian Americans, covering an array of political, historical, economic, social, cultural and familial aspects of Asian Americans.

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