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Yes, Nigerian-Americans do well, but aren’t ‘most successful’ ethnic group in US

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“The most successful ethnic group in the US may surprise you”, the headline of a 7 June 2018 article in online magazine Ozy teased.

The revelation? It’s Nigerian-Americans.

To support this, the US-headquartered publication noted: “Today, 29% of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11% of the overall U.S. population.”

Nigerian-Americans, the article added, were one of America’s “most successful immigrant communities, with a median household income of $62,351, compared to $57,617 nationally, as of 2015”.

In March 2018, Africa Check found a claim that Nigerians are the most educated immigrants in the US to be incorrect. This was because in the cited data source - the US census bureau - at least seven other countries had more people holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

15 US diaspora populations studied

In a tweet, Ozy’s journalist told Africa Check said the data she used was from the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington DC-based think-tank.

A June 2015 report by the think-tank found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora - defined as Nigerian immigrants and their children - older than 25 held a master’s degree, PhD or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. This was based on analysis of US census bureau data for 2009 to 2013.

The think-tank’s communications director, Michelle Mittelstadt, confirmed that they had studied 15 US diaspora populations, including Nigeria. These had not been ranked, but comparing the profiles show that India’s graduate degree attainment (at 44%) was the highest, followed by Nigeria.

“As part of a research project on diasporas, we selected certain countries but did not purport to select the 15 largest or 15 most accomplished or 15 most anything. It was a deliberate mix based on populations and geographies of interest, as well as our own research interests,” she said.

10 countries with higher graduate degree attainment

The most recent information on educational attainment of immigrant groups is from 2016, the US census bureau told Africa Check.

There are two ways to consider the question - by place of birth or by ancestry, chief of the foreign-born population branch at the data agency, Matthew Spence, said.

In the first category, Africa Check counted at least 10 other countries with higher graduate degree attainment than Nigeria. India-born immigrants were in first place.

For the second category, Nigeria was outranked by those claiming Iranian, Bulgarian and Russian ancestry. And when median household incomes for 2016 are considered, nearly 30 other countries were ahead of Nigeria (US$62,351).

The West African nation has certainly made a name for itself in the US, but it is in good company. - Lee Mwiti (12/06/2018)  

Highest educational attainment of US diaspora groups by birth (2016)
Country% with graduate degree or higher

* Table excludes South Central Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), which has a 36.5% rate overall.

Source: US Census Bureau


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