Focus Policy Blog


Socioeconomic and Health Barriers Faced by Asian American & Pacific Islander Boys and Young Men

The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is sometimes thought of as the model minority that faces fewer disparities and barriers compared to other ethnic groups. However, increasing data has indicated otherwise. In a new fact sheet from Asian & Pacific Islander Health Forum (APIAHF), Southeast Asian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) boys and men face substantial health and socioeconomic barriers similar to those of other ethnic groups.

barriers faced by asian

Some highlights include:

  • One in five Asian male teenagers have considered suicide, compared to 1 in 7 American Indian/Alaska Natives, 1 in 11 African Americans/Blacks, 1 in 8 Latinos, and 1 in 8 non-Hispanic whites.
  • One in five NHPI teens have been involved in a physical fight on school property, compared to 16% Blacks, 14% Latinos, 12% American Indian/Alaska Natives, and 10% whites. Additionally, 1 in 10 NHPI teens have carried a weapon on school property.
  • Asian youth arrests increased by 11% between 1980 and 2000 while there was a decrease of 47% among black youth in the same time period.
  • NHPI youth have some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse (4 in 10 currently drink alcohol, 3 in 10 use tobacco products, 1 in 10 have tried heroine).

Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health