E.g., 07/29/2014
E.g., 07/29/2014

Taiwanese Immigrants in the United States

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Taiwanese Immigrants in the United States

The 358,000 Taiwanese immigrants residing in the United States in 2010 represented 0.9 percent of the country's 40 million total foreign born, making the Taiwanese-born population comparable in size to the Italian, Iranian, and Brazilian foreign-born populations.

Despite accounting for only a small share of all U.S. immigrants, the Taiwanese government has estimated that more than half of all Taiwanese emigrants live in the United States. Since 2003, the Taiwanese government has conducted an annual survey of the Taiwanese born and their descendants in the United States in order to gather basic sociodemographic information and promote diaspora engagement in the homeland.

According to the most recently available U.S. data, Taiwanese immigrants are twice as likely as both the native born and immigrants overall to have attained a bachelor's degree or higher and are substantially more likely than the foreign born overall to be covered by health insurance, own their homes, and reside in households with incomes above the poverty line. Yet comparable shares of the Taiwanese born and immigrants overall report limited English proficiency, and Taiwanese-born men participate in the labor force at lower rates than the total population of foreign-born men.

This Spotlight focuses on Taiwanese immigrants residing in the United States and examines the population's size, geographic distribution, admissions categories, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. The data used come from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), the 2000 Decennial Census (as well as earlier censuses), and the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).

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Size and Distribution

Modes of Entry and Legal Status

 

Demographic and Socioeconomic Overview

Size and Distribution

There were about 358,000 foreign born from Taiwan residing in the United States in 2010.
In 2010, there were approximately 358,000 foreign born from Taiwan residing in the United States, accounting for 0.9 percent of the country's 40 million total foreign born. The Taiwanese-born population in the United States has increased in numeric terms each decade since 1980, but has decreased as a share of the overall foreign-born population each decade since 1990.

 

Table 1. Total and Taiwanese Foreign-Born Populations, 1980 to 2010
Year Foreign Born Taiwanese Born
Number Share of All Foreign Born
1980 14,079,906 75,353 0.5%
1990 19,767,316 244,102 1.2%
2000 31,107,889 326,215 1.0%
2010 39,955,673 358,460 0.9%

Source: Data for 2000 from the 2000 U.S. Census of Population and Housing; data for 2010 from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 2010. Data for earlier years comes from Campbell Gibson and Emily Lennon, Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 1850 to 1990 (U.S. Census Bureau Working Paper No. 29, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1999. Available online.

 

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Nearly half of the Taiwanese-born population resided in California in 2010.
California was home to the largest number of Taiwanese immigrants (168,592) in 2010, and the Taiwanese-born population in this state represented 47.0 percent of all Taiwanese immigrants in the United States. New York was the state with the second-largest population of Taiwanese born at 29,310 (or 8.2 percent of all Taiwanese immigrants), followed by Texas (22,116, or 6.2 percent), and New Jersey (17,206, or 4.8 percent). The Taiwanese born in these four states collectively accounted for 66.2 percent of all Taiwanese immigrants in the United States.

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Almost one-quarter of Taiwanese immigrants lived in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA metro area in 2010.
In 2010, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA was the metropolitan area with the largest number of Taiwanese-born immigrants (84,825 individuals, or 23.7 percent of all Taiwanese immigrants), followed by the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA (42,019, or 11.7 percent) metropolitan area. Compared to other metro areas, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA (28,097, or 7.8 percent) and San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (27,568, or 7.7 percent) metro areas also had relatively large populations of Taiwanese immigrants. Together, these four metropolitan areas were home to half (50.9 percent) of the 358,000 Taiwanese immigrants in the United States in 2010.

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Compared to other metro areas, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA had the highest share of immigrants born in Taiwan in 2010.
Taiwanese immigrants accounted for 4.2 percent (28,097) of all immigrants in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA metropolitan area in 2010. The metro area with the second largest share of Taiwanese immigrants was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA, where 2.1 percent (27,568) of all immigrants were born in Taiwan.

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There were 475,000 self-identified members of the Taiwanese diaspora residing in the United States in 2010.
Of the 475,000 self-identified members of the Taiwanese diaspora residing in the United States in 2010, more than three-quarters (76.6 percent) were born in Taiwan. About one in five (20.7 percent, or 98,000) were born in the United States or born abroad to U.S. citizens, and the remaining 2.7 percent were born elsewhere.

Note: There is no universally recognized definition of the term "diaspora." Most often, the term includes individuals who self-identify as having ancestral ties to a specific country of origin. To calculate the size of the Taiwanese diaspora in the United States, we included all individuals born in Taiwan (except those born to at least one U.S.-citizen parent) in addition to all individuals who selected "Taiwanese" either alone or in combination with another option as a response to either of the two ACS questions on ancestry.

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Modes of Entry and Legal Status

About 88,000 Taiwanese immigrants were granted green cards between 2001 and 2010.
Of the approximately 10.5 million immigrants who obtained green cards (i.e., lawful permanent residence) between 2001 and 2010, about 0.8 percent (87,932 individuals) were Taiwanese born. In 2010, the Taiwanese born accounted for 0.6 percent (6,732 individuals) of the 1.0 million immigrants granted lawful permanent residence that year.

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Taiwanese immigrants receiving lawful permanent residence in 2010 were more than twice as likely as immigrants overall to be admitted through employment-based routes.
Among green card recipients in 2010, Taiwanese immigrants were more than twice as likely as the foreign born overall to have been admitted as employment-based immigrants (31.0 percent versus 14.2 percent).

Like immigrants overall, Taiwanese immigrants who obtained lawful permanent residence (LPR) in 2010 were most likely to do so through family connections: 65.7 percent of the Taiwanese born and 66.3 percent of immigrants overall received LPR status in this way. More specifically, 25.7 percent of Taiwanese immigrants were admitted through family-sponsored preferences (compared with 20.6 percent of immigrants overall) and 40.0 percent were admitted as the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (compared with 45.7 percent of immigrants overall).

A small number of Taiwanese immigrants (2.9 percent) were admitted through the Diversity Visa Program (commonly known as the green card lottery), almost none were admitted as refugees and asylees (0.1 percent), and very few (0.3 percent) were admitted through other means. By comparison, among the 1.0 million immigrants overall who became LPRs in 2010, 4.8 percent did so through the green card lottery, 13.1 percent as refugees and asylees, and 1.7 percent through other means.

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There were just over 8,800 admissions in 2010 involving temporary workers from Taiwan with H-1B visas.
With 8,806 admissions, Taiwanese nationals accounted for 1.9 percent of the 454,763 admissions through the H-1B visa program in 2010. The H-1B visa program allows for the admission of temporary workers for employment in "specialty occupations," which are defined as those usually requiring a bachelor's degree or higher.

India was the country of citizenship for the largest number of H-1B admissions (138,431, or 30.4 percent of admissions), followed by Canada (72,959, or 16.0 percent), Mexico (30,572, or 6.7 percent), and China (19,493, or 4.3 percent).

Note: The term "admissions" refers to the number of entries, not individuals. Under this scheme, each entry by a single individual will be counted uniquely.

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Taiwan was the fifth most common country of origin for international students studying at U.S. institutions of higher learning in 2010.
According to research by the Institute of International Education, Taiwanese nationals accounted for 3.4 percent (24,818 students) of the 723,277 international students studying at U.S. institutions of higher learning during the 2010-2011 academic year. In these data, Taiwan was the fifth most common origin country for foreign students in the United States, with only China (21.8 percent), India (14.4 percent), South Korea (10.1 percent), and Canada (3.8 percent) accounting for a greater share of students.

According to separate data from the Office of Immigration Statistics, which tracks admissions of international students into the United States rather than international student enrollment in colleges or universities, Taiwanese nationals accounted for 2.1 percent (or 45,117) of the 2.1 million total foreign student and exchange visitor admissions in 2010. Taiwan was the ninth most common country of citizenship for this type of admission, with Mexico and Canada accounting for the largest share of admissions (15.7 percent each), followed by China (10.4 percent), and South Korea (8.1 percent).

Note: The term "admissions" refers to the number of entries, not individuals. Under this scheme, each entry by a single individual will be counted uniquely.

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Demographic and Socioeconomic Overview

Taiwanese immigrants are less likely than the foreign born overall to be recent arrivals to the United States.
Compared to the U.S. foreign-born population overall, Taiwanese immigrants are less likely to have arrived in the United States in the past two decades. While 34.7 percent of the 40 million immigrants who were present in the country in 2010 had arrived since 2000, a substantially smaller share – 24.7 percent – of the 358,000 Taiwanese born had done so. Taiwanese immigrants were also less likely to have arrived in the 1990s (22.3 percent) compared to the foreign born overall (27.1 percent).

Conversely, the foreign born from Taiwan were considerably more likely to have come to the United States in the 1980s, with 31.7 percent of Taiwanese immigrants – almost one-third of all Taiwanese born in 2010 – having arrived between 1980 and 1989, compared to 18.5 percent of immigrants overall. The Taiwanese born were also more likely to have arrived prior to 1980 (21.3 percent) than were the foreign born overall (19.6 percent).

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The foreign born from Taiwan were more likely to be of working age than were immigrants overall in 2010.
On average, Taiwanese immigrants residing in the United States in 2010 were more likely than both the native born and the foreign born overall to be of working age (between 16 and 64 years old): 87.8 percent of Taiwanese immigrants fell into this age range, compared to 63.3 percent of the native born and 82.0 percent of the foreign born overall.

The Taiwanese born were less likely than both the native born and the foreign born overall to be youths (under the age of 16) or seniors (age 65 and over). Youths accounted for 2.9 percent of the Taiwanese-born population in 2010, compared to 5.6 percent of immigrants overall and 23.5 percent of the native born (a category that includes U.S.-born children of immigrants). Comparable shares of the native born and foreign born overall were age 65 or older (13.2 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively), compared to 9.3 percent of the Taiwanese born.

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Taiwanese immigrant women outnumbered men in 2010.
Among all Taiwanese immigrants residing in the United States in 2010, 55.3 percent were women and 44.7 percent were men. The native born and immigrants overall each had more balanced gender distributions, with 50.8 percent women and 51.0 percent women, respectively.

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Compared to the foreign born overall, in 2010 Taiwanese immigrants were almost 30 percentage points more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens.

More than seven out of ten (72.1 percent) Taiwanese immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010, compared to only 43.7 percent of immigrants overall.

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About half of Taiwanese immigrants were limited English proficient in 2010.
Just over half (50.6 percent) of all Taiwanese immigrants age 5 and older residing in the United States in 2010 were limited English proficient (LEP), meaning that they reported speaking English less than "very well." The Taiwanese born were about as likely as immigrants overall to be LEP, with 51.6 percent of the total foreign born reporting limited English proficiency in 2010.

Taiwanese immigrants were more likely than the foreign born overall to report speaking English "very well" (40.5 percent versus 33.2 percent), but significantly less likely to report speaking "only English" (8.9 percent versus 15.2 percent).

Note: The term "limited English proficient" refers to any person age 5 and older who reported speaking English "not at all," "not well," or "well" on their survey questionnaire. Individuals who reported speaking only English or speaking English "very well" are considered proficient in English.

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Almost all of the Taiwanese immigrants who were limited English proficient in 2010 reported speaking "Chinese," Mandarin, or Formosan.
Among the 183,000 Taiwanese immigrants age 5 and older who were LEP in 2010, 43.3 percent reported speaking "Chinese" (as a larger category, "Chinese" could include Mandarin and Cantonese), 33.2 percent reported speaking Mandarin, and 20.9 percent reported speaking Formosan, a group of languages and dialects indigenous to Taiwan.

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In 2010, Taiwanese-born adults were more than three times as likely to have obtained an advanced degree as the native born and the foreign born overall.
In 2010, more than two-thirds (69.0 percent) of Taiwanese-born adults age 25 and older had attained a bachelor's or higher degree, compared to 28.5 percent of the native born and 27.1 percent of immigrants overall. More specifically, 30.9 percent of the Taiwanese born reported a bachelor's degree as their highest educational credential (compared to 18.1 percent of the native born and 15.9 percent of immigrants overall), and 38.1 percent reported an advanced degree such as a master's or doctorate as their highest educational credential (compared to 10.3 percent of the native born and 11.1 percent of immigrants overall).

Taiwanese immigrants were less likely than the native born and the foreign born overall to fall on the lower end of the spectrum of educational attainment. Only 5.4 percent of Taiwanese immigrants lacked a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2010, compared to 11.0 percent of the native born and 31.7 percent of the foreign born overall.

In addition, 11.5 percent of Taiwanese immigrants reported a high school diploma or its equivalent as their highest educational credential (compared to 29.7 percent of the native born and 22.5 percent of immigrants overall), and 14.1 percent reported some college or an associate's degree as their highest educational credential (compared to 30.9 percent of the native born and 18.8 percent of immigrants overall).

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Taiwanese immigrant men were less likely to participate in the civilian labor force in 2010 than immigrant men overall.
In 2010, Taiwanese-born men age 16 and older participated in the civilian labor force (73.1 percent) at lower rates than did foreign-born men overall (78.9 percent). Both groups were more likely than native-born men (67.8 percent) to participate in the labor force. Taiwanese-born women age 16 and older (60.9 percent), on the other hand, were slightly more likely to participate in the civilian labor force than native-born women (59.6 percent) and immigrant women overall (56.9 percent).

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More than half of all employed Taiwanese-born men reported working in management, business, and finance; information technology; and other sciences and engineering professions in 2010.
Among the roughly 107,000 Taiwanese-born male workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2010, 22.1 percent reported working in management, business, and finance occupations. An additional 13.2 percent reported employment in information technology roles, and 15.9 percent reported employment in other sciences and engineering positions.

Taiwanese immigrant men were significantly more likely than foreign-born men overall to work in these three categories of professions, with 10.8 percent of employed immigrant men age 16 and older working in management, business, and finance; 4.4 percent in information technology; and 4.0 percent in other sciences and engineering (see Table 2).

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Almost one-quarter of employed Taiwanese-born women reported working in management, business, and finance occupations.
Among the approximately 110,000 Taiwanese-born female workers age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force in 2010, nearly one-quarter (23.4 percent) reported working in management, business, and finance professions. A smaller share of immigrant women overall (10.3 percent), immigrant men overall (10.8 percent), and Taiwanese-born men (22.1 percent) reported working in this occupational category during the same year.

Employed Taiwanese-born women age 16 and older were also concentrated in administrative support positions (14.1 percent); education, training, and media and entertainment roles (12.7 percent); and sales occupations (11.5 percent). In fact, Taiwanese-born women were more likely than foreign-born women overall to work in all three of these occupational categories in 2010, with 13.7 percent of employed, immigrant women age 16 and older in administrative support position; 7.4 percent in education, training, and media and entertainment; and 10.3 percent in sales (see Table 2).

 

Table 2. Occupations of Employed Workers in the Civilian Labor Force
Age 16 and Older by Gender and Origin, 2010
  Taiwanese Born Foreign Born Overall
  Men Women Men Women
Number of persons age 16 and older employed in the civilian labor force 107,000 110,200 13,112,200 9,738,800
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Management, business, finance 22.1% 23.4% 10.8% 10.3%
Information technology 13.2% 8.0% 4.4% 2.1%
Other sciences and engineering 15.9% 6.1% 4.0% 2.1%
Social services and legal * * 1.1% 1.9%
Education, training, media and entertainment 8.1% 12.7% 3.5% 7.4%
Physicians 5.2% 2.3% 1.3% 1.0%
Registered nurses and other health care practitioners 1.7% 7.0% 1.5% 6.8%
Healthcare support * * 0.7% 5.7%
Services 8.6% 8.2% 19.0% 26.7%
Sales 10.9% 11.5% 7.8% 10.3%
Administrative support 6.2% 14.1% 5.4% 13.7%
Farming, fishing, forestry * * 2.9% 1.1%
Construction, extraction, transportation * * 23.5% 3.1%
Manufacturing, installation, repair 3.9% 2.0% 14.2% 7.6%

Note: * Sample sizes are not sufficiently large enough to report.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2010 American Community Survey. Accessed from Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Population Center [producer and distributor], 2010. Available online.

 

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Taiwanese immigrants were less likely to live in poverty in 2010 than both the native born and the foreign born overall.
In 2010, 13.1 percent of Taiwanese immigrants lived in a household with an annual income below the federal poverty line. Both the native born (14.6 percent) and the foreign born overall (18.6 percent) were more likely to live in poverty during this period.

Note: Poverty is defined as individuals residing in families with a total annual income below the federal poverty line. Whether an individual falls below the official poverty line depends not only on total family income, but also on the size of the family, the number of children, and the age of the householder. ACS reports total income over the 12 months preceding the interview date.

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Taiwanese immigrants had a higher rate of homeownership than immigrants overall and the native born in 2010.
In 2010, the homeownership rate among Taiwanese immigrant householders age 18 and older was 74.8 percent, significantly higher than for immigrants overall (55.0 percent) and slightly higher than the homeownership rate for the native born (71.3 percent).

Among those persons age 18 and older living in owned homes, Taiwanese immigrants (35.5 percent) were also substantially more likely than the foreign born overall (23.4 percent) and slightly more likely than the native born (31.1 percent) to reside in a household without a mortgage or home loan.

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Taiwanese immigrants were more than twice as likely as immigrants overall to have health insurance in 2010.
While more than one in seven (14.0 percent) Taiwanese immigrants lacked health insurance coverage in 2010, more than one-third (34.3 percent) of immigrants overall was uninsured. The uninsured rate for the native born (13.0 percent) was comparable with that of the Taiwanese born.

Among those with health insurance coverage, Taiwanese immigrants (90.7 percent) were more likely than immigrants overall (74.9 percent) and the native born (77.9 percent) to be covered by private health insurance alone or in combination with some form of public coverage.

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About 114,000 children under the age of 18 resided with at least one Taiwanese-born parent in 2010.
In 2010, about 114,000 children under the age of 18 resided in a household with at least one immigrant parent born in Taiwan. This represented only a small share (0.7 percent) of the roughly 16.9 million children under 18 who lived in immigrant families that year.

Like the overall population of children with immigrant parents, the majority of children in Taiwanese immigrant families were born in the United States. This figure was slightly higher for children with Taiwanese parents (88.6 percent) than for children with immigrant parents overall (85.9 percent).

Note: Includes only children who reside with at least one foreign-born parent.

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Sources

Institute of International Education. 2011 Open Doors 2011 Fast Facts. Available online.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2010 American Community Survey. Accessed from Ruggles, Steven, Trent Alexander, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Matthew B. Schroeder, and Matthew Sobek. 2010. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Available online.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. 2011. Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. Various tables. Available online.

Taiwan Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission. 2011. Longitudinal Survey of Migrants to the U.S. from Taiwan-2011 (Filing Statement – Questionnaire A). Available online.