EBRI Issue Brief

Understanding the Financial Wellbeing of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community

May 30, 2024 18  pages


The number of Americans who identified as Asian alone or in combination in 2020 was estimated to be 24 million, while the number of Americans who identified as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders alone or in combination at this time was 1.6 million. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of Asian Americans increased by 38.6 percent and the number of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in the United States increased by 29.5 percent, and these numbers will continue to rise. Given the growing importance of these communities, this Issue Brief examines the financial status of individuals belonging to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The key findings are:

  • Among the racial groups examined, the AAPI group had the highest percentage of people living in metropolitan areas, with 98 percent residing in metropolitan areas. In addition, the AAPI group also had the highest rates of individuals with bachelor's degrees or advanced degrees and individuals who are working for someone else (not self-employed). However, they are less likely to speak only English and to be born in the United States.
  • Those in the AAPI group had the highest ownership rates of stocks or bonds, retirement assets, and checking accounts compared with the other races. For instance, 35 percent of the AAPI group owned stocks or bonds, compared with 23 percent of those in the “White alone” group, which was the group that had the second highest ownership rate.
  • While the median earned income was $45,784, individuals in the AAPI group had a median income of $55,342, 21 percent higher than the overall median and the highest compared with other racial groups, followed by White alone at $47,105 and Black alone at $37,920.
  • These higher ownership rates and incomes for the AAPI group generally carried over even when examining the racial categories by the other factors examined: metropolitan area, educational attainment, work arrangement, English fluency, and U.S. Nativity status.

AAPI community members compare favorably with those from other racial groups. As such, the group as a whole appears to have high levels of financial wellbeing. However, the AAPI community is not a single, homogeneous group. Despite their overall success in achieving financial wellbeing, those identified as Asian alone have a higher median income and higher asset ownership rates than those identified as Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, whose median income and asset ownership rates are lower than the national figures. Employers and financial institutions should take into account not only age, race, and gender, but also ethnic backgrounds when it comes to diversity and inclusion.