Transformation Among Asians in Houston

Urban Affairs

Rice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research


This report presents some of the most important findings from three expanded versions, in particular, of the Kinder Institute’s annual “Houston Area Survey” (1982-2012). In all but one of the years between 1994 and 2012, the basic random samples of Harris County residents have been expanded to reach large representative samples, numbering about 500 each, from the county’s Anglo, African-American and Hispanic populations. In 1995, 2002 and 2011, generous additional contributions from the wider Houston community made it possible to include equally large representative samples of the region’s varied Asian communities, with one-fourth of the interviews being conducted in Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin or Korean.

In the pages that follow, we first describe the remarkable demographic trends that have transformed this Anglo-dominated biracial southern city of 30 years ago into what is today the single most ethnically diverse large metropolitan region in the country (Emerson et al. 2012). Drawing on the three Asian surveys spanning 16 years (from 1995 to 2011), we document the distinctiveness of the Asian experience in comparison with Harris County’s Anglos, blacks and Latinos; we explore the most important differences in life circumstances, attitudes and beliefs among the area’s four largest Asian communities – Vietnamese, Indians/Pakistanis, Chinese/Taiwanese and Filipinos; and we consider some of the implications of the survey findings for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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