Research Finds 2.5 Lakh Indian-Americans Live Below Poverty Line

Research finds that about 250,000 of the 4.2 million Indian Americans in the U.S. live below the poverty line.

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The Indian American
2 min read
Research finds that about 250,000 of the 4.2 million Indian Americans in the U.S. live below the poverty line.
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The majority of the United States’ 4.2 million Indian Americans are thriving economically, but the COVID-19 pandemic may drive the percentage of the Indian diaspora living in poverty to as high as 10.1 percent, finds a research paper by Indiaspora, a nonprofit organisation.

The "Indian diaspora are one of the most affluent ethnic minorities in the U.S., with a median income of $120,000, nearly double that of the average U.S. household", notes the study.

However, it found that "about 250,000 of the 4.2 million Indian Americans in the U.S. live below the poverty line".

While poverty has multiple causes, there are some factors that amplify it. The most common is not having a decently well-paying job with social protections, determines the study, that is consequently affected by education, employment status, and occupation.

In the US women have higher rates of poverty than men, however, this gender distribution is reversed in the case of Indian Americans. Men are more represented among the poor (53 percent) than women (47 percent).

The spatial location of impoverished Indian Americans is more dispersed. The top 15 counties of residence for impoverished Indian Americans account for just a third of the poor Indian American population, found the study.

Research Finds 2.5 Lakh Indian-Americans Live Below Poverty Line
(Photo Courtesy: Indiaspora.org)

New York's Queens county has the highest concentration of impoverished Indian-Americans, followed by Cook County in Illinois, and Los Angeles County in California.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating financial consequences on a portion of the Indian-American diaspora. The study reveals the portion of Indian Americans working in industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

Other studies have identified 28 vulnerable industries, including mining, general stores, air and rail transportation, gasoline stations, and childcare services.

Using a threshold of household incomes between 100-150 percent of their essential needs, i.e., those just above the poverty line, there is an additional 3.4 percent of the population vulnerable to further economic shocks resulting from COVID, states the study.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase poverty among Indian Americans by between a quarter and half, depending on the duration and intensity of the health and economic shocks", said Devesh Kapur, Director of Asia Programs and Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

“With COVID-19 wreaking health and economic havoc, this is an appropriate moment to raise awareness and discuss the issue of poverty that exists in our otherwise affluent community. We hope that the report will lead to an increased focus on this topic, followed by targeted measures to make a positive difference", said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora.

“With this report, we wanted to draw attention to the plight of the most underprivileged Indian Americans".

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