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Zillow: 83% Growth Of Asian-Headed Households Hides Significant Inequality

Katie Jensen
May 28, 2021

Taken as a whole, the growth hides inequalities among people from different Asian ethnic regions.

The number of Asian-headed households grew by 83% in the past 2 decades, far exceeding Blacks, Latinos, and whites in household growth. However, this masks significant problems when it comes to homeownership in diverse communities.

New Zillow Research shows that the Asian-American population is the smallest but fastest ethnic group in the US, with plenty of issues of their own. They continue to struggle with difficult immigration environments, unequal access to opportunity, and disparate educational backgrounds -- the same housing barriers that other racial and ethnic groups face.

From 2000 to 2019, Asian-American homeownership rate rose 6 percentage points to 59%. This majorly outperforms other ethnic and racial groups who either have a flat or falling rate of homeownership. Median household income of Asian-Americans is the highest across all racial or ethnic groups in the U.S., with their home values 3.7% higher than typical home values.

However, Asian households concentrated in expensive coastal metro areas, like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, skew the median income data and median value of their homes above national average. A trend, referred to as the Great Reshuffling, may explain why more Asian households are starting to shift away from these high-cost urban centers for more affordable metros.

“Asian households are often upheld as an economic success story — high incomes, homeownership rates, and other positive metrics point to a relatively prosperous demographic. But this highly diverse group also has the highest level of income inequality, and housing characteristics across Asian ethnicities differ greatly,” says Zillow economist Alexandra Lee.

Although most of these signs point to prosperity, income inequality is rising most rapidly among Asian-Americans. The income distribution among Asian households is currently the most unequal in the country. In half of the top 50 metro areas, Asian household income and Asian household poverty rates are higher than the metro median.

Incomes and homeownership rates vary greatly between ethnic regions. East and Southeast Asians have the highest (60%) homeownership rates. Their median household income of $80,000 surpasses the national median of $62,187. Yet, Pacific Islander homeownership rates are around 43%, which is more in line with Latinos and Blacks. Their median household income is $65,000.

Broken down even further, sharp disparities between ethnic regions begin to show. Taiwanese have the highest homeownership rate at 69%, followed closely by Vietnamese at 66%, and Japanese at 65%. South Asians (including Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Nepalese and Sri Lankans) have the highest incomes of any other regional group of over $110,000. Despite what they can afford, South Asians have relatively low homeownership rates of 55%.

“As this population continues to grow — faster than any other racial or ethnic group — it will be crucial to recognize the disparities within the AAPI community to understand the opportunities and missed opportunities they are experiencing in the housing market,” Lee added.

To learn more, read the full report from Zillow.

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