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Overview of Houston Area Asian Survey

In 1995 and in 2002, with the generous support of the wider Houston community, researchers at Rice University were able, in conjunction with the annual Houston Area Survey, to conduct systematic telephone interviews with representative samples of 500 Asians in Harris County, the only such surveys in the country. These studies have proven to be an invaluable resource for those seeking scientifically sound facts and figures about Houston’s Asian communities.

More than half of all Harris County households contain either Latinos or blacks, but it requires an extraordinary effort to reach a truly representative sample of the area’s Asian residents. The 2002 Houston Area Asian Survey began with 65,000 phone numbers, completed 24,267 interviews with a randomly selected respondent from each household reached with these numbers, identified 741 that contained an Asian adult (3.1%), completed 500 interviews with a randomly selected Asian adult in each household (67.5%), and conducted 25 percent of the interviews in Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean.

In the combined surveys of 1995 and 2002, 30.4 percent of all the Asian respondents were Vietnamese, 26.3 percent were Chinese, 23.3 percent were Asian Indians, 7.9 percent were Filipinos, 3.8 percent Koreans, and 8.4 percent were from other Asian countries. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Harris County Asian population as a whole grew by 76 percent between 1990 and 2000, to reach a total of 193,059. The census estimates for 2010 indicate that the number of Asians grew by an additional 60 percent between 2000 and 2010 (to reach a total of 309,426), while the Harris County population as a whole grew by less than 17 percent.

The US-born Asian second generation is rapidly coming of age, constituting an ever-larger proportion of all Asians in Harris County (they were 10% of the Asian sample in 1995, and 14% in 2002). Members of the Asian community are increasingly represented in Houston’s leadership positions. At the same time, many area Asians continue to struggle, facing significant challenges that Houston’s leaders need to understand in order to better serve these communities.

Nine years have passed since the last Houston Area Asian Survey. It is clearly time to replicate and expand this research, to map systematically the continuities and changes that have occurred during the past decade in the experiences, attitudes, and outlooks of Houston's varied Asian communities. The Kinder Institute for Urban Research will be able to fund a part of the additional costs that will be required to reach and interview a representative sample of 500 Asians. We need the help and support of the wider Houston community to make this research possible.

Through interviews averaging more than 20 minutes apiece, the surveys record a rich array of socioeconomic and demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, education, income, occupation, home-ownership, migration patterns, languages spoken, citizenship, etc.), and they measure attitudes and beliefs in many different areas. They ask about perspectives on the local and national economy, poverty programs, and interethnic relationships; perceptions of discrimination, affirmative action, and immigration; attitudes toward education, crime, health care, taxation, and community service; concerns about downtown development, mobility, and the environment; beliefs about abortion, homosexuality, and civil liberties; religious and political orientations; and family circumstances.

This year’s survey will also probe various aspects of “ethnic identity.” Respondents will be asked if they think of themselves as primarily American or primarily Asian (or Latino), and about the efforts they have made over the past year to maintain their cultural identities, such as participating in the meetings of an Asian (or Latino) organization, making efforts to teach younger members of their community about their ethnic background, or participating in an ethnic holiday or cultural event.

By asking identical questions in interviews with representative samples of 500 Anglos, 500 African Americans, 500 Latinos, and 500 Asians, this research will provide as accurate a picture as it is possible to obtain through scientific survey research of the experiences and perspectives within and among all four of Houston's (and America’s) major communities. After the completion of this year’s study, we will be able to publish a full report on the survey findings that will explore the continuities and changes in the Asian experience in Houston since 1995, in the context of comparable research conducted in all four ethnic communities, and assess systematically the quality and nature of interethnic relationships in this region of burgeoning diversity.

A group of local Asian American civic and business leaders are leading a fund raising effort to help raise needed funds to ensure the completion and analysis of the third Houston Area Asian Survey. Here's a list of community sponsors of 2011 Houston Area Asian Survey. If you want to join them and make a donation to support this research, please download the donation form here and follow the instructions. If you have questions regarding this effort, please contact Rogene Gee Calvert, rg-calvert@sbcglobal.net or 832-723-4508.

If you have questions about the survey, please contact Dr. Stephen Klineberg at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at kinder@rice.edu or 713-348-4132.