Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



This report describes a study of the civic participation of low-income Asian American adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five in the Boston area. It is based upon a mail survey with 100 respondents, focus groups, and organization interviews.

The study found that over 60% of the study population engaged in some form of civic participation, most commonly through fundraising or volunteer activities. Other activities included arts and culture with a social message, issues work, and electoral involvement. The area of greatest involvement was education. From the survey, civic engagement is correlated with female gender, higher education, and a perception of living in a low-income area. The demographics of the study population reflect a majority who are female, Chinese, attending college and in the labor force. Vietnamese was the second most reported ethnicity, and most were residents of the cities of Boston and Quincy.

The study also showed potential for greater civic participation. The cohort indicated an interest in increasing and broadening their current engagement. The important motivators for civic engagement that emerged from the study are community building, awareness of issues, and material incentive. In order to activate individuals in this group to greater civic participation, advocacy and activist organizations should be aware of these factors and allocate appropriate resources to their further development. These organizations can also be more effective by soliciting widely and in diverse ways and being flexible in how they integrate participants.


Produced in cooperation with the Asian American Resource Workshop.



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