September 30, 2014

5 facts about Indian Americans

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a rapturous reception in New York City on Sunday, speaking to more than 19,000 people — largely Indian Americans, according to The New York Times — at Madison Square Garden. During his packed five-day visit, Modi also addressed the UN General Assembly and met with a bevy of U.S. business leaders Monday morning before heading to an “intimate dinner” with President Obama.

This is the first official trip to the U.S. for Modi, who was elected in May. His visit not only marks an effort to repair strained U.S.-India relations, but also spotlights the growing presence of Indians and Indian Americans in American life. Two sitting governors (Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, both Republicans) are of Indian ancestry; so are Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Neel Kashkari, former Treasury Department official and current GOP candidate for California governor.

In 2012, the Pew Research Center released a pair of reports on Asian Americans — one focused on demographics and attitudes, the other on religion. The reports, which drew from 2010 census data and 2012 survey results, included much information about the country’s nearly 3.2 million Indian Americans; we’ve selected a sampling of facts from both reports:

1 Many Indian Americans are recent arrivals. 87.2% of Indian-American adults in 2010 were foreign-born, the highest percentage among the six largest Asian-American groups; 37.6% of those had been in the U.S. 10 years or less. One consequence of so many Indian Americans having arrived so recently: Only 56.2% of adults were U.S. citizens, the lowest share among the six subgroups studied in detail.

2 Indian Americans are among the most highly educated racial or ethnic groups in the U.S. 70% of Indian Americans aged 25 and older had college degrees in 2010, by far the highest rate among the six Asian-American groups studied and 2.5 times the rate among the overall U.S. population. More recent (2013) data from the American Community Survey provides more detail: 40.6% of Indian Americans 25 and older have graduate or professional degrees, and 32.3% have bachelor’s degrees; an additional 10.4% have some college education. One likely factor: the large segment of Indian Americans who entered the country under the H1-B visa program, which allow highly skilled foreign workers in designated “specialty occupations” to work in the U.S. In 2011, for example, 72,438 Indians received H1-B visas, 56% of all such visas granted that year.

FT_14.09.29_religionIndian3 Not all Indian Americans are Hindu. Only about half (51%) of Indian Americans are Hindu, though nearly all Asian-American Hindus (93%) trace their heritage to India, according to our 2012 survey. 18% of Indian Americans identified themselves as Christians (as both Haley and Jindal do); 10% said they were Muslim. The religious shares of Indian Americans are markedly different from those of India itself (where an estimated 79.5% of the population is Hindu and only 2.5% is Christian, according to Pew Research’s 2012 Global Religious Landscape report), reflecting differential migration patterns.

4 Indian Americans generally are well-off. Median annual household income for Indian Americans in 2010 was $88,000, much higher than for all Asian Americans ($66,000) and all U.S. households ($49,800) — perhaps not surprising, given their high education levels. Only 9% of adult Indian Americans live in poverty, compared with 12% of Asian Americans overall and 13% of the U.S. population. In 2010, by our analysis, 28% of Indian American worked in science and engineering fields; according to the 2013 American Community Survey, more than two-thirds (69.3%) of Indian Americans 16 and older were in management, business, science and arts occupations.



5 Indian Americans lean left. 65% of Indian Americans were Democrats or leaned toward the Democrats, making them the Asian-American subgroup most likely to identify with the Democratic Party. An identical share of Indian Americans approved of Obama’s job performance in 2012.

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Asian Americans

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.


  1. Cyrus Moto1 year ago

    There may be some bad apples among the Indian community, but that is usually because they may lack manners or they are arrogant. I am an Indian born in America, so they usually treat me with respect by default, but I have witnessed some snobs who showed attitude toward Americans. Also, Indian people, the ones who are born in India and migrated to America, are usually racist towards black people, greedy, two-faced, still follow a caste system, spread rumors/gossips, and they always try to one-up you. Most of those traits they usually keep to themselves, but they do speak of it to their Indian only cliques. I am speaking from experience, especially since I know hundreds of Indians, and I am Indian myself. Ignore my pen name.

    1. Anonymous1 year ago

      Your negative view unknowingly makes it sound like you are very opinionated and perhaps rude and racist yourself.What you are will shape your opinion about others too.

      1. Biswajit Biswas1 year ago

        Well said!!

  2. Dr.Alok K Sharma2 years ago

    Sir, It is great empirical research as once I took when I was Research Associate.I cogratulation to u for bringing true hard working nature of Indians and their contribution to great democracy of America. Congratulations.Dr. Alok K Sharma, Advocate.Supreme Court of India

  3. JT2 years ago

    This report is extremely poorly done.

    First of all, the US don’t allow immigration from these countries unless they have University degrees. So how on earth can their educational background even be compared to anyone else in the country? Compare it to Indian people in India instead to get a more appropriate calculation.

    In addition, the majority of degrees from India are from bribery and corruption. You too can become a doctor or engineer by simply paying some money to the head principal. That doesn’t make you educated.

    Third, of course they are “well off” when the ones sent abroad comes from the wealthiest families.

    Jeez, who makes these weak and ridiculous statistics. You can only get accurate figures by balancing the numbers from their own countries and then do comparative adjustments.

    1. Praveen2 years ago

      This article compares between Asian populations in America. It just indicates among the migrants, Indians are better off. But it didn’t make any sense to compare with general US population.

    2. teja2 years ago

      i think they missed you in the statistics , if you are included the percentage would drop further . picha puka

    3. imari2 years ago

      First of all, your knowledge is very poor about immigration. Yes US do allow immigration from these countries without a degree, by marriage, by family, by adoption, business/visit and etc. You are forgetting one fact that there and indian immigrant families, who have been living here or moved here during last 10 years. They went to American school and college. Look at their statistics and you will know how many of us have a college degree and how many of us are very successful in America.
      Second, You are partially correct most of it is done by bribery, but let me correct you, bribery and corruption is only to get into the school, degrees are finished by students. In addition, only “SKILLED” students get to come in America because Professional schools in America have high GPA requirement and they also have to maintain high GPA throughout coursework. If their degrees were done completely by bribery then they should be failing to maintain high GPA in American Universities.
      Third, No they are well off because they work hard not because they are rich, Significant number of Indian students come to US Universities through full scholarships because again they are smart enough to get it, or they get loans from their countries, if they were rich they won’t need scholarships/loans. Also, Most immigrant families are not rich, if they were rich they won’t come to US, some of them are better off living in India. Most of the family start from scratch, work hard and then kids go to college because we value education.
      Jeez, you don’t Understand Statistics and its concepts. As an Indian Statistician who got her degree from American University, I don’t think there was anything wrong with the report. They clearly justified the data and explained it.

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Well said

      2. Anonymous1 year ago

        Well stated !

      3. Anonymous1 year ago

        You wrote it better than I would have. Well replied, agree on all points raised.

  4. Vinay Kolhatkar2 years ago

    The same Indians who vote Democrat are supporting Modi. I asked many of those who do this to defend this apparent contradiction. Their answer is that they see Modi as being fiscally responsible and not anti-minority. The perceived racism and evangelicalism of the GOP works against the non-white immigrants. This overrides the fiscal conservatism. That’s a fair answer.

    But the problem of course is that both parties are fiscally irresponsible, the Democrats only more so.

    1. Xavier Abraham1 year ago

      I’ve read Nikki Haley’s autobiography. Before she ventured into any active public life, her only voting record indicated that she voted for Democrats. A friend of her assessed her views, found she holds conservative and family values dearly, quite typical of most Indians, and advised she’s Republican.

      But it’s puzzling why overwhelming majority of Indians tend to be with Democrats, when there is very little in common between the values we inherit from Indian culture with what the Democrats today are holding. What I think is that many Indians are misled by this view that GOPs are generally white racists and anti-immigration folks.

      1. Anonymous1 year ago

        Well, they are a minority. A very visible one.
        White conservatives (esp. evangelicals, and some other religious groups) tend to not care how educated, rich, and/or well-mannered you are. They tend to be much more interested in your skin color, facial features, country of origin and religion. They’re also very likely to be hostile toward multiculturalism.
        So I can see why Indians would prefer to associate with liberals fighting for racial equality (and other interests of immigrants) and why they would feel uncomfortable among conservatives.
        Not to mention there is a positive correlation between level of education and likeliness of being liberal.
        So it’s no surprise they’re (fortunately) more likely to be liberals.

      2. Anonymous1 year ago

        “What I think is that many Indians are misled by this view that GOPs are generally white racists and anti-immigration folks.”

        – you think?

  5. Chanakya2 years ago

    According to the Indian constitution, Jains, Sikhs, Budhid-sts< Vaisnavs all are Hindus.Nicki Haily and Bobby Jindal they converted to Christianity because of mattiege or just to suit them. But they still celebrate there customs and festvals with their parental families.

    1. Lord Shiva2 years ago

      Who told you that? Read the constitution properly before commenting irresponsibly. The constitution of India says the ‘Hindu Law’ applies to those from the Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions. And that is because the religious customs of all these religions are fairly homogenous (unlike Muslim, Christian and Parsi religions). That DOES NOT mean that the Constitution of India says that the three distinct religions – Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism – are all Hinduism.

      1. HARISH N2 years ago

        Absolutely correct. In fact, Constitution of India doesn’t name any religion.

    2. Anonymous1 year ago

      I heard that in america Pakistani say they are Indian

  6. Suresh Nanjagurd2 years ago

    It’s not at all astounding to see more Indians belonging to other religion. There are many Indians abroad who have helped the society in many ways. Just like Dr P Mohamed Ali who has helped boosting education The rich, the elite class of Oman but yet really big at heart and helpful towards people

  7. balasaheb thakare2 years ago

    i really love america one day alaon want to come america

  8. Sandeep Sharma2 years ago

    Try once to claim any indian for lifetime experience.., you will acknowledge yourself that what are the unearthing facts of this context that you are forging.. well brother.. we have strong faiths and belief in our ancient epics, culture etc., we are culture loving, traditional people and religious.., mention us here if you have such things like.. we have own values unlike you all.. it is accepted that you are very ahead from us ..but what are your success stories behind this? we are ahead on with our stronger moralitty not alone only… we love politeness we don’t use to criticised we allow to everybody, our language is not the language for the name only its one of component of our religious which teaches us that how you can support to mankind in their hardship. If you are claiming then I ensure you that you can be wrong for many points and at the end of this you have to be changed your prospective, ultimately you would have to change your mind.. and not with Indians only….for all mankind here, they are also human being like you!! thanks for reading!! jai mata di.. paacha aaojo !!

    1. Lord Shiva2 years ago

      What are you saying man?!? Why don’t you type in Hindi and use Google Translate to covert to English? I’m Indian, and even I cannot understand what you’re trying to say!

  9. Karan Johar2 years ago a new blog dedicated to indian americans in the US.

  10. Melvin2 years ago

    I work with Indian engineers here in USA working for Aero space industry . Man! They are just brilliant ! Their work ethics are just awesome! They are mild tempered and always willing to help others. You can never see an Indian American who is rude and treat others with dis respect. Their attitude is just superb!
    Welcome to America !

    1. geust2 years ago

      was this supposed to be sarcastic?

    2. Vyas sagar2 years ago

      Thanks a lot dear..
      I feel proud to heard this all from you…..
      Thanks all Americans who always welcome us …

    3. Anandi Merchant2 years ago

      Thank you Melvin…I take that as a compliment!

      1. pfoster34802 years ago

        It’s the truth. Wicked smart and very nice.

    4. shankar2 years ago

      thank you melvin.. thanks for welcoming us.

    5. Vivek Golikeri2 years ago

      God bless you for your kind words about Indian people, Melvin, and let me say that I utterly love America the way a man loves the woman he has been with for thirty-five years. I migrated from Trinidad and Tobago, where half the population is of Indian descent.

      Like those folks you described, I too am mild, polite and helpful. But I also believe in the American values of individuality, freedom and being willing to stand up to nonsense. As a writer and a poet I found freedom and self-expression in America. My whole life here has been an ongoing adventure.

    6. Rupal2 years ago

      that is a very nice thing of you to say!

    7. Akshay Anurag2 years ago

      Thanks, Melvin for the generous comment.

    8. Abhishek Kumar Saxena2 years ago

      Thanks Mr Melvin , Most welcome in india.

  11. Gavin Grady2 years ago

    have more facts

  12. ankit2 years ago

    Hello brother; we Indians are not uneducated we are very well aware of our culture and family relations..
    our mother tounge is “Hindi” not English but we don’t igno it..
    we respect you it doesn’t means we are not strong..It is my culture and our Earth we should respect each other my friend..NAMASTE 🙂

    1. John Abraham2 years ago

      hindi ?! maybe up north, but india as a whole has hundreds of different languages, just because our national language is hindi does not mean every INDIAN has to speak it. NAMASKARAM !

      1. Darshan Patil2 years ago

        Hindi is not our national language. please read about it before you comment.

    2. Kraem2 years ago

      More Indians speak fluent English in India than in Britain. About 120 Million to be precise! Thats 10% of India’s total population altogether!

      1. Johntatum2 years ago

        You’ve gotta be kidding

    3. Amrush2 years ago

      I am an Indian and I have lived in India all my life but I don’t know a word of Hindi. I speak fluent Tamil and English. Traveling across India, I find knowing english more useful than any particular “Indian” language including Hindi.

  13. Thomas Smith3 years ago

    I generally like Indian people in the US a lot, they’re seriously awesome people…but I do have one question — why do they vote Democrat? Most conservatives are generally much more pro-India than liberals, look how much Obama funds Pakistan…

    1. LT Spiceman2 years ago

      The Republicans under Nixon even sent in USS Enterprise to bomb India in the 1971 war with Pakistan. More to the point, Republicans are tied to christian evangelicals who convert Hindus in India . Bobby Jindal or Nikki Haley would not have been elected on the Republican ticket, if they had not converted to Xtianity. Republicans like Indians, and dislike Hindus

      1. anil2 years ago

        Have not seen Republicans who are scientific oriented unlike the professional middle class in us or many wonder many Asians and even Jewish prefer democrats

    2. Krishna2 years ago

      Most Indians who arrived here believe in a fair chance for everyone regardless of the situation they were born in, that is the reason they are here – instead of stagnating where they came from. Republican ideology believes in keeping rich people rich and poor people poor – kind of a caste/class system that the Indian immigrants here have moved here to escape from. So naturally, they identify as democrats. The Indians who still have a mindset of class system (thankfully, the minority), vote Republican.

    3. Mitra2 years ago

      I have noticed that most of the older Indians who immigrated back in the 70s generally tend to be Republican and are more likely to give funding to the Republican party. That’s the only reason why Republicans tolerate Indians. Money. I think the newer generation has caught on to that, somewhat. I personally believe neither party really cares about Indian Americans. Indian Americans may be rich, but they don’t have the numbers to make a difference during the elections, which is why both parties treat Indians fairly indifferently. They both want our money but don’t care about our votes.

      1. Anandi Merchant2 years ago

        I agree Mitra…..

      2. Anonymous1 year ago

        100% accurate

    4. VM2 years ago

      Thomas…it would be common sense that Indian voters feel more naturally drawn towards the GOP due to their business friendly and aggressive foreign policies. But these advantages have been neutralized due to two main factors: Democrats’ move toward the left-center in terms of policy ideas and most importantly GOP’s slide toward racial/religious/anti-thought politics since 2000. The constant news about openly debating expert and scientific facts (like evolution and global warming), blanket criticism of all immigrants, open support for class-driven policies that mostly favor the rich, and general uncompromising attitudes of GOP politicians do not make Indians feel welcome. Indians are generally very culturally grounded and collective in nature as opposed to individualistic nature of American lifestyle. Since majority of Indians here are India-born, they also have a very strong bond to motherland. They fit better in environment that let’s them balance their cultural background along with American values without any pressure to choose one or the other. Largely, GOP identity requires them to make that choice and assert their pax-Americana attitude above all else. Add to that mix the loud GOP pronouncements of US being a Christian nation, it can make even tolerant and peaceful community like Indians uncomfortable. This is fine and can work for most of the judeo-christian people in this country that have lived here for generations (like Italians, Irish, Polish, etc.) but it doesn’t work well with the first generations. Democratic party allows them to balance these factors much more comfortably as they are deemed less rigid, comparatively secular and progressive. All the values that Indians greatly admire and aspire to pass on to next generation.

  14. Janet3 years ago

    Let’s stop calling Native Indians, “Indians”, they are not “Indians” and aboriginal American would be more appropriate way to go.

    1. Kevin2 years ago

      Totally Agreed. In america we are known are segregating people thats our culture !

    2. Lord Shiva2 years ago

      Ahem! You mean Native Americans or American Indians. The only people who are ‘Native Indians’ are people from India. And instead of Aboriginal Americans, why not call them Americans / Real Americans?

  15. Jerry Donel3 years ago

    This article is TOTALLY misleading! There are BIG differences between Native American Indians (which you seem to have ignored) and East Indians and other foreigners (who you clearly favor). So when are you going to get the facts straight and publish a revised and corrected article?

    1. Sammy3 years ago

      This article is all about Asian Indian Americans, as one can tell with mentions of PM Narendra Modi. This article does not talk about Native Americans, and so therefore, you don’t need to include them in the presented statistics. There is nothing misleading about this article.

    2. Sharad Jogal3 years ago

      There is absolutely no confusion about using the term “Indian Americans”. I understand that this is the precise nomenclature used when “Indian Americans” were given recognition as a minority community, perhaps in the EEOC directive around 1988.

    3. Lord Shiva2 years ago

      What you refer to as Native American ‘Indians’ are not Indians at all. It was an incorrect nomenclature, which has since been corrected to say Native Americans.

    4. Lord Shiva2 years ago


  16. D. Maclean3 years ago

    When you refer to “Indians”….shouldn’t there be a distinction between East Indians and Native Americans? Or is the word “Indian”, when referring to America’s indigenous population, a racial slur?

    1. sree3 years ago

      Columbus / Americus Vespucci took western route to reach India & hit land of present America, but thought they hit India. So they called natives who tried to run seeing them as Indians…Since then native Americans were called Indians..India is 5000 yrs old ..and 7000 yrs old civilization…haha

      1. Liz2 years ago

        history is no longer taught is schools.

  17. Howard Reston3 years ago

    Indians generally do not come to the US unless they are somewhat well off. And that usually means they have a comparable education to go with it. There aren’t really a lot” of refugees” coming from India like there are from countries like Vietnam or Central America.

    1. Krishna2 years ago

      Many of the people who came here were not “well off”, but had engineering degrees before they arrived. You could say they were well off academically. Not many were ‘well off’ even by Indian standards.

  18. Muthyavan.3 years ago

    Indian civilization is the oldest and is the richest with many spoken languages with oldest literatures .

  19. seetharaman3 years ago

    No surprise here. Less skilled or less educated Indians are always denied visas to US.

    1. denbaumgartner3 years ago

      Good! We don’t need anymore uneducated people here…we have too many as it is!

    2. BeautifulGorgeous3 years ago

      I was thinking along the same lines. It would be very difficult for someone living in poverty to obtain the appropriate paperwork and funds necessary to emigrate from India. I believe statistics re: this disparity should have been included in study.

  20. Pedro3 years ago

    The Democratic Party is not a left-wing party, just more inclined towards the centre than the Republican Party.

    1. Paul Dulaney3 years ago

      The Republican Party is not a right-wing party, just more inclined toward the center than the Democratic Party.

      1. john smith3 years ago

        The Republican party is a party of the rich for the rich and by the rich. That means about 1% of the citizens. The rest are fooled into believing that (a) they are the rich or (b) the Republican party is for average American.

        1. Judy3 years ago

          You got it!

        2. Lord Shiva2 years ago

          The Indians in the US are also part of the 1%. So, with that logic, they should all lean right 🙂

        3. Shaolin2 years ago

          Most republican voters are fooled into believing that they are rich fighting against poor’s influence. Truth is republicans support only 1% top businesses, executives & not the 80% middle class.

      2. axt1133 years ago

        Anyone who thinks the GOP is centrist in any way is deluded.

        The GOP abandoned the Center decades ago

    2. Connie3 years ago

      Today’s democrat party borders on communism!!!!!! The democrats policies have contributed to poverty. You should read more about Republicans. They truly are the party of the middle class!