Article Title

Beyond the “Haves and Have Nots”: Using an Interdisciplinary Approach to Inform Federal Data Collection Efforts with Indigenous Populations


This study demonstrates how multiple methods can inform national survey data collection efforts for Indigenous populations using Pacific Islanders as a case study. National data surveys are oftentimes limited in how they collect data on small populations due to data suppression, and they lack nuance in how they aggregate distinct populations. I conduct linear regression models of U.S. Census data to demonstrate that Pacific Islanders lag behind Whites in income, even after controlling for household characteristics and geography. Further analyses of oral histories and interviews with Pacific Islanders demonstrate that income disparities exist in part because of remittances, competing financial demands, and citizenship status. I argue that it is important to add survey questions that capture migrant experiences to improve national data survey collection efforts. By utilizing and improving both types of data collection, researchers can better comprehend the barriers and opportunities for decreasing the racial income and wealth gap, which will strengthen the economic stability of Pacific Islanders in the United States.


This paper expands on a report by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, which was funded by the Ford Foundation's Building Economic Security over a Lifetime Initiative. Thank you to Keith Camacho, Randall Akee, Paul Ong, and Melany De La Cruz-Viesca for support of this project.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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