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Chinese Communities Vary Widely
From the World Journal
June 20, 2003

In a speech on June 19, demographer Joseph Salvo pointed out that a phenomenon of social polarization is occurring among Chinese Americans. Among the three largest Chinese American neighborhoods in New York City, residents of Flushing, especially the Bay Side area, have the highest income and most education. This contrasts with the largely low income and less educated Chinese American populations in Chinatown and Sunset Park.

According to the newest published census data, 36 percent of Flushing Chinese Americans are professionals, concentrated in accounting and computer science; 38 percent have degrees above college level, with an average household income of $36,000. In addition, 38 percent of Flushing residents came to United States in the last decade; a percentage similar to that in other Chinese American neighborhoods in New York City.

In comparison, only 14 percent of Chinatown Chinese Americans are professionals, and only 7 percent have degrees above college level, with an average household income of $24,000; 39 percent are new immigrants. Among Chinese Americans in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, only 8 percent are professionals; 8 percent have degrees above college level, with an average household income of $23,000; 45 percent are new immigrants.

This contrast becomes even sharper when Chinatown and Sunset Park are compared with the Chinese Americans in the Bay Side area of Flushing. In Bay Side, 46 percent of Chinese Americans are professionals; 42percent have degrees above college level, with an average household income of $69,000. Only 18 percent are new immigrants.

Salvo, a New York City population analyst and professor, was invited by the New York Chinese American Association to talk on this topic. He said that the concentration of high income and educated Chinese Americans in Flushing had to do with the fact that the area was populated by Taiwanese students and merchants early on. However, he added, the population of Taiwanese Americans is small and cannot explain the area’s unique quality. Salvo agreed with a suggestion by the audience that many city residents from Mainland China who speak Mandarin are attracted to Flushing.

According to Salvo, analyses of census data have not yet included illegal immigrants, about 400,000 of whom live in New York City. He estimated that “among these illegal immigrants, about 20 percent to 30 percent come from Mainland China.”

Salvo predicted that the fastest growing Chinese American community in New York City in the near future would be Bensonhurst in Brooklyn Long-time Italian American residents have mostly moved out of the area, and a likely scenario is that it will be populated by Chinese and Russian Americans.

Regardless of their income, 40 percent of Chinese Americans buy their home, a rate surpassing that of average New Yorkers. For instance, in low income Sunset Park, 28 percent of Chinese Americans buy their own house. In Flushing that number reaches 47 percent – 84 percent in Bay Side. Chinatown is exceptional, with only 4 percent of its residents owning their home. This has to do with the fact that Chinatown’s residential buildings have already bought up by the landlords.


Translated from Chinese by Michael Huang

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