March 09, 2005

Arab Immigrants Successful (tip to VC)

A quick gut reaction to terrorism is to restrict immigration from Arab or Muslim states. I've found that such a restriction might be inappropriate for the vast majority of Arabs. My personal experience is that Arabs and Muslims tend to be educated and hard-working. Now a new US Census report shows that Arabs are integrating well into US society and economy, and are more successful than the average American.

Of those who reported Arab ancestry, approximately 29% claimed Lebanese ancestry. Reporting only Arab ancestry were approximately 850,000 people (0.3% of the US population), and it bumps up to 1,189,731 (0.42%) if you include those with mixed Arab and non-Arab ancestry.

The Arab population in the US is skewed male through all age groups under 64. This may seem like a sign of Arab chauvinism, but more likely it's an indication of immigration patterns; for nearly all non-refugee immigrants, the males predominate. Often a husband did and would come over, find work and a house, then bring over his family; OR a young male with no attachments would leave home. Either way, this is relatively unremarkable and the margin isn't even all that stark.

Also in a predictable immigration pattern, children under 5 and people 20 to 49 are overrepresented in US Arabs as compared to the US population as a whole. That makes sense - the immigrants have to be old enough to leave but not so old they're tired, and then when they get here they start families and have young children.

US Arabs are somewhat more likely to be married than the average American. A little under half (46.4%) of Arabs were native to the US, as opposed to 88.9% of the US total population - though almost 75% of all those claiming Arab ancestry held US citizenship. Almost half of all foreign-born US Arabs arrived in the 1990s. US Arab men are more likely to work than US non-Arab men, but the reverse is true for US Arab women.

Interestingly, 3 out of 4 US Arabs speak only English at home or speak English 'very well.'

Here's the successful part:
- 84% of US Arabs have graduated high school, compared to 80.4% of the total population
- 41.2% of US Arabs have at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 24.4% of the total population
- every individual nationality listed on the Census site had a greater college-educated rate than the total population (never less than 31%)
- 63.9% of US Arab-Egyptians have college degrees
- 42% of employed US Arabs work in management or professional settings, compared to 34% of the general population
- 30% of employed US Arabs work in sales and offices compared to 27% of the general population
- the median US Arab man makes $41,687, compared to the median US non-Arab man who makes $37,057
- the median US Arab woman makes $31,842, compared to the median US non-Arab woman who makes $27,194
- the median US Arab family makes $52,318 (US Lebanese: $60,677; US Syrian: $58,204; US Egyptian: $57,264) while the median for the country is $50,046

Overall, Arabs are more likely to be educated and somewhat more likely to be well-educated. They are more likely to work in white-collar professions and much less likely to work in blue-collar ones. They have greater incomes on average and higher family incomes. They were two counterpoints: although Arabs have higher average incomes they have a greater percentage living in poverty, so there's some internal contrast there. They were also less likely to own their own homes, except for the US Lebanese who were more likely.

Overall, though, it appears things are looking pretty decent for US Arabs, especially Lebanese, Syrians and Egyptians who regularly scored the best on most indicators. This is a very good result, considering that Arabs are one of the most recent immigrants to come to the US in anything like large numbers. It's hard to expect much from new immigrant groups, but this is a very positive place to be. This is another reason why we shouldn't try and exclude peaceful Arab or Muslim immigrants - they turn out to be successful, prosperous, hard-working members of society.


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