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Are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Financially Secure?

Viewed from the aggregate of various ethnic and age groups, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have been pictured as more economically secure than the general population. But there are many groups and packets of groups at the poverty level. There are ethnic groups that have higher than average household incomes. On average, AAPIs are major consumers and users of financial products and services. Their larger and multigenerational households are a factor in their high consumerism and higher household income levels.

Learn: Find more reports from AARP Research

The picture for age 50+ Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is not as rosy. The higher median income, as well as the higher use of goods, financial products and services compared to other population groups,  mask the polarity of wealth among them. Many are affluent while large proportions of Asian ethnic groups than the general population of the same age are at or below poverty level. 

The research results that show a better financial picture for Asian Americans are also for the most part among English speakers only, and do not cover the rest of the population who tend to be linguistically isolated, limiting their financial opportunities. 

Key findings include:

  • Many Asians at midlife and beyond, especially those age 65 and older, are in more dire financial straits because of their lesser likelihood to have pensions, social security, and other financial products like health insurance and retirement savings.
  • Multigenerational households that combine wage earnings and other resources like family support are moderating factors for financial need. With family support also comes interdependence, which may hinder the attainment of financial independence.
  • Factors like English language capability, length of time in the United States, and number of wage earners in the household impact income. 

This report is a compendium of research findings on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) at midlife and older. It includes results from AARP research studies, especially among Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans, the two largest Asian groups age 50 and older in the United States. One of AARP’s largest research endeavors on AAPIs was a 2013 study on Chinese and Filipinos in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. AARP also analyzed data from the Census Bureau, as well as syndicated survey data of English speaking Asians by Scarborough Research. Several external reports were reported here as well. Results shown are from data gathered in the past several years.

For more information, contact Xenia Montenegro at


Suggested Citation:

Montenegro, Xenia. Are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Financially Secure? Washington, DC: AARP Research, March 2015.

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