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Journal Article

The Earnings of Less Educated Asian American Men: Educational Selectivity and the Model Minority Image

ChangHwan Kim and Arthur Sakamoto
Social Problems
Vol. 61, No. 2 (May 2014), pp. 283-304
DOI: 10.1525/sp.2014.12029
Stable URL:
Page Count: 22
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The Earnings of Less Educated Asian American Men
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Asian Americans have long been popularly portrayed as a “model minority” that has achieved approximate labor market parity with whites. However, this characterization has been alternatively described as “a destructive myth,” especially for those who do not have high levels of education. Our analysis focuses on less educated Asian Americans who may be particularly neglected in the labor market because of their incongruence with the model minority image. Consistent with this focus, we specify quantile regression models that estimate net racial effects at both the lower and the higher ends of the distribution of earnings. The results indicate that Asian American men who drop out of high school earn substantially less than comparable whites at the low end of the earnings distribution. This pattern of racial differentials seems to be consistent with the “destructive myth” perspective and inconsistent with the alternative explanation of negative educational selectivity. In general, our findings illustrate the fruitfulness of Kevin Leicht’s (2008) proposed research agenda of studying racial disadvantage by disaggregated class-related groupings and across the entire distribution of earnings rather than focusing exclusively on one overall racial differential that is assessed as a conditional mean.

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