What’s Going On in This Graph? | U.S. Asian Population (Published 2022) (2023)


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What’s Going On in This Graph? | U.S. Asian Population (Published 2022) (1)

By The Learning Network

The number of people who identify as Asian in the United States nearly tripled in the past three decades, and Asians are now the fastest-growing of the nation’s four largest racial and ethnic groups, according to the 2020 U.S. census.

The Asian population is complex, made up of nearly 20 million people who trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, regions that the Census Bureau includes as places of origin for Asians.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, we will moderate your responses live online. By Friday morning, Jan. 28, we will provide the “Reveal” — the graphs’ free online link, additional questions, shout outs for student headlines and Stat Nuggets.

1. After looking closely at the maps above (or at this full-size image), answer these four questions:

  • What do you notice?

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  • What do you wonder?

  • How does this relate to you and your community?

  • What’s going on in this graph? Create a catchy headline that captures the graph’s main idea.

The questions are intended to build on one another, so try to answer them in order.

2. Next, join the conversation online by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box. (Teachers of students younger than 13 are welcome to post their students’ responses.)

3. Below the response box, there is an option to click on “Email me when my comment is published.” This sends the link to your response which you can share with your teacher.

4. After you have posted, read what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting a comment. Use the “Reply” button to address that student directly.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, teachers from our collaborator, the American Statistical Association, will facilitate this discussion from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time.

5. By Friday morning, Jan. 28, we will reveal more information about the graph, including a free link to the article that includes this graph, at the bottom of this post. We encourage you to post additional comments based on the article, possibly using statistical terms defined in the Stat Nuggets.

Updated Jan. 27, 2022


So much of the news is about whites, Blacks and Hispanics in the United States. In the wake of the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, numerous reports about physical attacks against Asian in the United States turned the media’s focus to this group of U.S. residents, and the prejudice that they can experience. The 2020 U. S. Census revealed that the number of American residents who self-identify as Asian (from East Asia, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent) tripled since 1990. With 20 million U.S. residents of Asian origin, they are now the fastest-growing of the nation’s four largest racial and ethnic groups – white, Black, Hispanic and Asian. There are an additional 3.5 million people who identify as mixed-race Asians. U.S. Asians are geographically diverse and have a broad variation in income, citizenship status and political preference.

These maps, which appeared in the Aug. 21, 2021 New York Times article “Inside the Diverse and Growing Asian Population in the U.S.,” show where self-identified Asians from 16 countries of origin live. Though Asian Americans typically have been associated with living on the coasts, they reside throughout the country. Moreover, the diversity of the nation’s Asian population often gets overlooked. Most published statistics consider all Asians as a single entity, but the reality is more nuanced. We can see from these maps that every state has a significant number of Chinese. But, there are concentrated groups of Asians from different countries of origin in various parts of the U.S., for example Hmong from Laos in Minneapolis and Bhutanese in Columbus, Ohio.

Here are some of the student headlines that capture the stories of these charts: “How Major Asian Groups Are Dispersed in the Country” Colleen of Academy of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey; “Asians in America: Scattered or Clustered Across the States” by S of Pennsylvania and “The Asian Population in America is Coasting” by Fiona and “Asians on the Map” by Erin, both of USA.

You may want to think about these additional questions:

— News articles frequently discuss the change in key indicators over time. For example, this article says that from 1990 to 2020, the U.S. Asian population increased from 6.6 million to 20 million people, a growth of 13.4 million people. That’s a 203 percent increase. This percentage change is greater than, for example, the increase in the Hispanic population from 22 to 62 million people during the same time period (1990 to 2020). It is a larger growth of 40 million people, but only a 182 percent increase.

The increase in the number of residents was far greater for Hispanics than for Asians, but the percentage change was greater for Asians than for Hispanics. Which statistic (number increase or percentage increase) more clearly explains the change in the population? Explain your answer.

— The article includes more maps, charts and graphs about the U.S. Asian population. They analyze age, income, citizenship status and political preferences.

Go to the article for the interactive version of a map that compiles the population data by county. You can click on a county and see the percentage of the county’s population who are Asian and the county’s Asian country of origin subgroups in order of population size. What do you discover about your county and others in your state? Is there anything that surprises you?

— The New York Times article notes that there is a vast difference in age and income among Asian Americans by country of origin and within countries of origin. This demonstrates that generalizations about Asian Americans or about people from any country can be erroneous and biased.

The Pew Research Center published “Key Facts about Asian Americans, a Diverse and Growing Population” with related features on key facts by country of origin and 19 country fact sheets. From the Pew materials, find significant differences in age or income among countries of origin that surprise you. For example, the median household income of Filipinos is $90,400, but for Nepalese is $55,000. Then, find a difference in age or income within countries of origin that surprises you. For example, 57 percent of the Korean adult population in the U.S. has a college degree, but 23 percent of the Korean adult population in the U.S. has a high school degree or less.

Keep noticing and wondering. We continue to welcome your online responses.

The next graph on clean energy metals will be released by Friday, Jan. 28 with live-moderation on Wednesday, Feb. 2. You can receive the 2021-2022 “What’s Going On In This Graph?” schedule by subscribing here to the Learning Network Friday newsletter. In the meantime, keep noticing and wondering.

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Stat Nuggets for “Inside the Diverse and Growing Asian Population in the U.S.

Below, we define mathematical and statistical terms and how they relate to this graph. To see the archives of all Stat Nuggets with links to their graphs, go to this index.

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A map can be a graph when the map shows data or statistics with their geographic relationship.

The 16 U.S. Asian Population maps by country of origin show areas where persons who self-identify as being from an Asian country account for at least 0.5 percent of the area’s total population. The maps are ordered by the size of the total population for each country of origin. The data from 20 Asian countries of origin are compiled into the article’s interactive U.S. map.


The graph for “What’s Going On in This Graph?” is selected in partnership with Sharon Hessney. Ms. Hessney wrote the “reveal” and Stat Nuggets with Erica Chauvet, mathematics professor at Waynesburg University in Pennsylvania, and moderates online with Ben Kirk, mathematics and statistics teacher at Ithaca High School in New York.


See all graphs in this series or collections of 60 of our favorite graphs, 28 graphs that teach about inequality and 24 graphs about climate change.

View our archives that link to all past releases, organized by topic, graph type and Stat Nugget.

Learn more about the notice and wonder teaching strategy from this 5-minute video and how and why other teachers are using this strategy from our on-demand webinar.

Sign up for our free weekly Learning Network newsletter so you never miss a graph. Graphs are always released by the Friday before the Wednesday live-moderation to give teachers time to plan ahead.

Go to the American Statistical Association K-12 website, which includes teacher statistics resources, Census in the Schools student-generated data, professional development opportunities, and more.

Students 13 and older in the United States and the Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.


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