Pew Research reissues report on Asian Americans after misrepresenting Taiwanese Americans



Corrected “Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S.” (Pew Research Center) – September 8, 2021

How many Taiwanese live in the U.S.? It’s not an easy question to answer (Decoded: PRC Medium) – September 8, 2021

To the Taiwanese American community:

Ever since the 1990 United States Census, the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) has led civic engagement efforts to remind our community to complete the U.S. Census by not only checking the “Other Asian” box but also writing in “Taiwanese” so that we are counted as a distinct group. We did the same for the 2020 U.S. Census.  Thus, it was both shocking and hurtful to discover that the self-reported data for  “Taiwanese” was disappeared from the Pew Research report titled “Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S,” published on April 29, 2021. 

As part of the 2020 Census Campaign leadership team, we responded with an Open Letter addressing this issue to Pew Research.  We also showed Pew that the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) did provide disaggregated data for Taiwanese counts in their online tables (1 year Table and 5 year Table).

We are happy to report that we have since had several very productive conversations and communications over this topic with Pew Research. This week, we saw the positive impact of this open dialogue with their issued correction and a further statement looking more closely at the problem of inconsistent reporting around self reported identities by the U.S. Census. 

In the footnotes this time, they have written: 

“This is an update of a post originally published May 22, 2019. On Sept. 8, 2021, data for 2000, 2010 and 2019 for “Taiwanese,” “Chinese, except Taiwanese” and “Okinawan” was added to the first table to encompass the full Census Bureau tabulation. For more about measuring the Taiwanese population in the U.S., read “How many Taiwanese live in the U.S.? It’s not an easy question to answer.”

We know that sometimes being an “Other” means we have to work harder for recognition, but we also think challenges like these are critical opportunities to reaffirm our own identities as well.

Thus as always – This is who we are. Keep making it count.

To Pew Research Center and Neil G. Ruiz, the Associate Director of Race and Ethnicity Research at Pew:

With receipt of your published correction, we would like to share a second open letter addressing your research efforts:

Thank you for issuing a correction to the inaccuracies in your report, “Key facts about Asian origin groups in the U.S.”  We understand, from our ongoing correspondence, that while the table published by the 2019 American Survey showed Taiwanese (1 year Table, 5 year Table), the microdata that Pew had received from the same sourcing did not.

We appreciate you also publishing an accompanying piece that further investigates the data disaggregation issue around the American Community Survey.  The report underscores further need for improvement for the census format for its questions and answers in order to more accurately and clearly fulfill its intended purpose.  

Quoting from your report: “When some responses are grouped with others or suppressed altogether, researchers may be constrained in their efforts to dig deeper.”

Your research further confirms recommended guidance for the 2030 census to use a more inclusive list of race and identities, either as a drop-down menu, or as examples on the census form.  We are further recommending that the census bureau invest into meaningful public education about write-in options and to expand on the answer boxes on the 2030 census form.

Quoting again from your report: “Answers to these questions can be heavily influenced not only by respondents’ interpretations, but also by question wording and placement, as well as the way response options are presented.” 

It is great to see Pew research also identify the same challenges as we saw, as we agree with you that “multilayered nature of racial and ethnic identity is not exclusive to the Taiwanese population: It frequently surfaces when studying other identity groups”.  

We are glad that this has been a teachable moment for all of us.

To All Our Open Letter Signatories: 

Thank you so much for your signatures and showing support for Taiwanese to be counted on the U.S. Census, and appropriately cited in all research reports stemming from the data set.  We stand together in solidarity in affirmation of these values:

  1. Self reported identities should be fully counted to support more precise, accurate data disaggregation
  1. Write-in identities should be counted as legitimately as the identities with pre-existing checkboxes

The work continues – thank you for being a part of it. 


Christina Hu

Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Director of Civic Engagement, Taiwanese American Citizens League

Leona Chen

Creative Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign


Chieh-Ting Yeh

Media Director, Write in Taiwanese Census Campaign

Editor-in-Chief, Ketagalan Media



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