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Asian immigrants transforming Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley Map

Views from the Edge

Immigrants from Asia continue to flow into lucrative jobs in Silicon Valley, making up for an exodus of residents tired of worsening traffic, high cost of living and soaring home prices.

The influx of Asian immigrants — particularly from India and China — is transforming Silicon Valley, the legendary birthplace of the high-tech industry and home of dreamers and investors, according to an annual report from think-tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley. For the first time in Silicon Valley’s history, Asian residents represent the largest population share (34 percent) living in the region, despite the anti-immigrant rhetoric spewing forth from the White House and new restrictions placed on work visas for foreign workers.

“The share of foreign-born residents has increased by nearly three percentage points since 2009, reaching 38 percent in 2017 (compared to 27 percent in California and 14 percent in the US),” says the report.

Silicon Valley ethnicity population chart

Immigrants make up 69% of the Silicon Valley workforce in highly technical occupations, including 26% from India and 14% from China. Other countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan and other countries make up 29%. Only 17% are from California, and 14% are from other U.S. states. The region is also getting more educated, with 51.6% of residents holding a bachelor’s degree, up from 44.2% in 2007. Twenty -four percent of adults in Silicon Valley also have a graduate or professional degree.

Silicon Valley Education
Silicon Valley foreign born

The annual report examines statistics across the local economy, social issues, housing, transportation, the environment and governance, among other topics.

Almost 3 out of 4 women tech workers in the region between ages 25 and 44 are foreign-born and are disproportionately from Asian countries, married and have children.

Since women with college degrees tend to have children later in life and fewer children in total, Silicon Valley’s increasing educational attainment level is likely a factor driving our declining birth rate (which was lower in 2018 than any other year in the past half-century).

The Silicon Valley report coincides with another study by the Pew Research Center that also found the rapid growth of immigrants from Asia in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley Youth Orchestra

According to new research from the Pew Research Center based on more than a decade of student-visa data, the Silicon Valley and San Francisco metros rank among the top ten destinations for foreign students earning American university degrees and staying to work.

Including the more than 77,000 foreign students who migrated to the region for employment after earning degrees in other U.S. cities, the Bay Area attracted more than 120,000 foreign-student workers from 2004 to 2016—more than any other market in the country except New York City, Pew says.

The Joint Venture Silicon Valley report also touched on the high cost of living and terrible traffic plaguing the valley. The full Joint Venture Silicon Valley report can be found at jointventure.org.

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