Asian-Americans' earnings disadvantage reexamined: The role of place of education

Zhen Zeng, Yu Xie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Past research has reported that Asian-Americans, and Asian immigrants in particular, have lower earnings than do whites within the same levels of education. However, few studies have explored why this earnings disadvantage exists. This article investigates whether and to what extent this disadvantage can be attributed to the lower value of foreign education in the U.S. job market. By comparing earnings of four groups of workers-U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born Asian-Americans, U.S.-educated Asian immigrants, and Asian immigrants who completed education prior to immigration, we examine earnings gaps between whites and Asian-Americans that are attributable to race, nativity, and place of education. Our results show that (1) there is no earnings difference across U.S.-born whites, U.S.-born Asian-Americans, and U.S.-educated Asian immigrants, and that (2) foreign-educated Asian immigrants earn approximately 16% less than the other three groups of workers. We conclude that place of education plays a crucial role in the stratification of Asian-Americans, whereas race and nativity per se are inconsequential once place of education is taken into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1108
Number of pages34
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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