Half of Asian American adults say most of their friends share their ethnicity, according to survey

When it comes to building friendships in the U.S., most Asian adults say it comes most easily within their own community. In a new study by the Pew Research Center delving into the shared experience of Asian American daily life, 51% said all or most of their friends in the U.S. share their ethnicity or are also Asian. 

The survey of over 7,000 Asian adults living in the U.S. revealed divides and similarities in the way they view themselves and the community at large. 

While 56% of foreign-born Asians said all or most of their friends are also Asian, one generation in the U.S. can make all the difference, the study finds. Only 38% of U.S.-born Asians say most of their friends are also Asian. Among third-generation Asian Americans, that number dips down to 32%. 

But when it comes to identifying who is Asian, definitions tend to vary by ethnic group. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed, 89%, said they consider East Asians to be “Asian;” 88% said they considered Southeast Asians as “Asian;” and 67% said South Asians fit the definition. 

Central Asians, like Afghans or Kazakhs, were only identified as “Asian” by 43% of Asian adults. South Asians were more likely than other groups to include them in the definition. 

But despite the varying ideas of who fits under the umbrella — and the fact that only a quarter of Asians say they are informed about Asian American history — around 60% of those surveyed said that what happens to other Asians in the U.S. impacts their own lives. Around 70% said they want a national leader that advances the concerns of the Asian community.

Most community members described the American dream as something more than accumulating wealth or owning a business. Ninety-six percent said having freedom of choice to live one’s life, having a good family life and retiring comfortably are more important to them. 

While most Asian adults surveyed said the American dream is within reach, a quarter said they will never achieve it. 

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