MPI Report: Indian Diaspora Attains High Achievement in U.S.

IndianAmericans have come a long way in a short time. According to a new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington D.C., the Indian diaspora is growing ever more robust in this country. MPI’s fascinating demographic portrait shows vividly how one of America’s newest immigrant groups also turns out to be one of its most successful. [See The Indian Diaspora in the United States, Migration Policy Institute, Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora (RAD) Program Diaspora Profile, July 2014.]

Due to restrictive immigration laws that once favored Northern and Western Europeans, barely a trickle of Indians – a mere 6,250 of them – came to the United States from 1920-1959, according to MPI. Indians began immigrating here in greater numbers after the restrictions were lifted in 1965, and MPI notes that the Indian-born population of the United States has grown from 210,000 in 1980 to 1.8 million today; when their children are included, Indians here currently number about 2.6 million. Only two U.S. immigrant groups are larger: those from Mexico and China.

Perhaps what’s most striking is that MPI’s statistics show, as a group, Indian immigrants are well educated and high achieving, often surpassing their native-born American counterparts:

“Indian immigrants and their children hold advanced degrees at four times the rate of the U.S. general public, and they are also more likely to be in the labor force or to be employed. Households headed by a member of the Indian diaspora in the United States have a median annual income $39,000 above the median for all U.S. households, and over one-quarter of Indian diaspora households are in the top 10 percent of the U.S. household income distribution.”

According to the study, Indian immigrants tend to come to the United States for higher education – especially in STEM fields – and for jobs in high-skilled occupations, especially through the H1B and L-1 visa programs. As inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs, they have contributed to the rapid expansion of the U.S. technology sector. MPI points out that, “between 1995 and 1998, Indians ran 9 percent of all Silicon Valley start-up companies…” Other key findings:

  • Entrepreneurship
    Indians have been highly successful entrepreneurs in non-tech businesses in the U.S. as well, as owners and operators of hotels and convenience stores.
  • Poverty
    Among the IndianAmerican population, poverty rates are substantially lower – about half of the U.S. average.
  • Giving back
    IndianAmericans embrace philanthropy. According to MPI, “Many now affluent Indian immigrants in the United States arrived with few resources, but through a combination of hard work, education, skills, and vision achieved a remarkable level of success. Many consider giving back an obligation and a welcome responsibility. In a survey of India diaspora philanthropic activities, almost 40 percent of respondents had donated between $500 and $1,000 during the previous two years, and 27 percent had given more than $2,000.”
  • Remittances
    In 2012, IndianAmericans sent $13 billion in remittances back to India, nearly one-fifth of all remittances sent to India from overseas ($67 billion).

In other words, IndianAmericans are making substantial contributions to the wellbeing of the United States, and their native India. What makes them especially outstanding as immigrants is not just their top-flight academic credentials, their cutting-edge job skills, or their drive to succeed: it’s the fact that their high achievement tends to go hand-in-hand with a deep generosity.

At the Murthy Law Firm, we see examples of the success and generosity of IndianAmericans daily. Sheela Murthy, founder and president of the firm, of course, is a prime example, and the generosity of the MurthyNAYAK Foundation. There are also the clients of our firm, individuals and company owners, contributing to the U.S. economy, while supporting their families and worthy organizations here and in their native India. But, if you want the numbers, MPI has produced a profile of Indian immigrants in the United States that’s well worth reading in its entirety.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.