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A Basic Socioeconomic Profile of Japanese Americans from the 1910, 1920, And 1930 U.S. Census Data


  • Isao Takei

    (College of International Relations, Nihon University, 2-31-145 Bunkyo-cho, Mishima, Shizuoka, 411-8555 JAPAN)

  • Arthur Sakamoto

    (Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, 425A Academic Building, 4351 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4351)


This study provides a socioeconomic profile of Japanese Americans using the 1910, 1920, and 1930 U.S. Census data. Systematic evidence on the socioeconomic characteristics of the Japanese American population has not been investigated using Census data before 1940. Japanese American communities back in the early twentieth century America were mostly organized by the Issei, the foreign-born immigrant Japanese. Despite their efforts toward agricultural cultivation, railroad construction, and hard labor in various kinds of low-paid service jobs, Japanese Americans often faced harsh anti-Japanese movements and sentiments from the mainstream European white society. Although the 1910, 1920, and 1930 Census data do not provide extensive information on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of Japanese Americans, our analysis nonetheless yields several notable results. First, compared to native-born non-Hispanic whites, Japanese Americans tend to be younger (especially in the case of native-born), never-married (especially for men), have lower rates of fertility, literacy, English speaking ability, metropolitan residence, and business ownership. Second, Japanese Americans tend to be concentrated in California and Hawaii. Third, there is a large disparity in occupational status scores between Japanese American Issei and whites in terms of the Duncan Socioeconomic Index, even after controlling for age, literacy, English ability, metropolitan residence, and residential region. On the other hand, occupational status somewhat improves among the native-born portion of Japanese Americans. Overall, our findings suggest a substantial cost associated with being Japanese American during this period when harsh anti-Asian policies and sentiments were in full swing.

Suggested Citation

  • Isao Takei & Arthur Sakamoto, 2015. "A Basic Socioeconomic Profile of Japanese Americans from the 1910, 1920, And 1930 U.S. Census Data," International Journal of Asian Social Science, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 5(10), pages 570-584, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:asi:ijoass:2015:p:570-584

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aimee Chin, 2005. "Long-Run Labor Market Effects of Japanese American Internment during World War II on Working-Age Male Internees," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 491-526, July.
    2. Arthur Sakamoto & Huei-Hsia Wu & Jessie Tzeng, 2000. "The declining significance of race among American men during The latter half of the twentieth century," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(1), pages 41-51, February.
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