Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPIs) in many ways — through economic hardship, negative health outcomes, and rising incidents of hate and violence. The pandemic also exposed fissures and challenges facing Asian Americans and NHPIs that were already deep-rooted in California. This report, which builds upon an earlier report released in June 2022, aims to identify any changes in accessing services before and after the onset of COVID in 2019 and 2021, respectively, and to take a closer look at the challenges that AA and NHPI communities face in the post-COVID period, including anxieties associated with gun violence and experiences with hate and discrimination.
Authors examine data from the 2019 and 2021 1-year American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) and the 2018-2021 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), including a 15-minute follow-on survey for 2021 CHIS AAPI respondents to identify trends in social service utilization and gaps in accessing health, mental health, and social services for AA and NHPI communities in California.
Findings, by major section:
- Between 2019 and 2021, Hispanics/Latinos and Asian Americans had statistically significant increases in reports of delays in health care due to system and provider barriers.
- By 2021, Asian Americans and NHPIs were more likely than Whites to rely on community-based health care.
- About 3 in 10 Asian Americans in California reported difficulties in accessing health services, and cited financial cost, lack of awareness about options, lack of insurance, and limited English proficiency as the most salient challenges.
- Doctors, government health agencies, and friends/family remain by far the most trusted sources of medical information for Asian Americans. Only 37 percent of Asian Americans trusted social media apps for medical information.
MENTAL HEALTH AND COMMUNITY WELL-BEING:
- Suicide ideation increased between 2018/19 and 2020/21 for Asian Americans, as for many other groups, with increases especially pronounced among non-U.S. citizens.
- Yet the share of Asian Americans receiving mental health services did not change before and after the onset of COVID.
- Major barriers for finding mental health services include lack of knowledge about available options, financial cost, lack of insurance, and limited options in their neighborhood.
- Fear of gun violence is a significant contributor to community anxiety and the lack of well-being.
- Even before the 2023 shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California, Asian Americans and NHPIs were the groups most worried about becoming a victim of gun violence.
EXPERIENCES WITH HATE
- One in 4 Asian Americans in California reported having ever experienced a hate crime or hate incident, with Southeast Asians reporting the highest levels of experiences with hate.
- Among those who had ever experienced hate crimes or hate incidents, most had done so before 2020.
- Asian American men were significantly more likely than Asian American women to be threatened or harassed (16% vs.10%, respectively) and also more likely to have been mocked or had offensive physical gestures made towards them (15% vs. 9 %, respectively).
- About 1 in 5 Asian Americans in California worried "all the time" or "often" about being a victim of a hate crime, with worries especially high among Filipino Americans.
SOCIAL DETERMINANTS: ECONOMIC STATUS, HOUSING, EDUCATION, FOOD SECURITY
- Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders all saw higher poverty rates, and lower labor force participation rates, in 2021 than in 2019.
- The labor force participation rate for Indian Americans increased slightly between 2019 and 2021, while Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese Americans saw statistically significant decreases.
- The share of NHPI homeowners with mortgages who were burdened with housing cost (spending 30% or more of household income on housing) increased from 35% to 45% between 2019 to 2021.
- Asian Americans in California report relying mostly on friends or family members for assistance in accessing quality or affordable housing, with government agencies a distant second.
- About 2 in 5 Asian American respondents indicated that they had difficulty finding quality or affordable education, with financial cost as the most common reason across groups.
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