# US income by religious affiliation

1. ### leroyjenkens

619
Apparently 43% of American Hindus make over 100k a year.
http://www.pewforum.org/2009/01/30/income-distribution-within-us-religious-groups/

That was surprising to me. I see Hindus in their native countries and they don't seem to be doing so well, but in America, apparently they're doing great. Almost half of them make over 100k a year. I don't even know anybody who makes that much money. Any ideas on how they're so successful?

2. ### Pythagorean

4,622
My assumption with many foreign americans is that their immediate ancestors were well off enough to get to the US. Because of the resources required to change to a far away country, you'd think that the immigration is biased towards people with more disposable income.

3. ### SteamKing

9,391
Staff Emeritus
Well for one thing, there are fewer Hindus in America than in India. This eliminates a lot of competition in that community. Also, by immigrating to America, the individual Hindus have shown a certain initiative to search for better opportunities in life than may be available in their countries of origin. I think this initiative carries on into working hard at a job, getting a good education, if not for oneself, then for your children.

These Hindus may have studied for a professional career in their native lands, but employment opportunities there were lacking, which is why they decided to immigrate to America.

I don't think Hindu parents generally will be satisfied by letting their offspring settle for a community college education or working in retail: you see students of Hindu faith going to school to become scientists, medical doctors, or engineers. The salaries of these professions generally are found in the upper end of the income scale in America. A lot of foreign Hindu students study at university in America and decide to stay afterward.

4. ### SteamKing

9,391
Staff Emeritus
But on the other hand, if you are poor in your native land, by scraping up the price of a ticket to America, with a little hard work, you can better your station in life immensely over what you could expect without immigrating.

One example of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger. A lot of people assume that he built his fortune off his fame as a bodybuilder who became a movie star.

http://articles.latimes.com/2003/aug/10/local/me-arnoldbiz10

Arnold arrived in the US reportedly with only a few dollars in his pocket (100 Austrian schillings IIRC, whatever they were worth in the 1960s). He first earned money by working as a bricklayer, but instead of blowing all of what he made, Arnold very shrewdly saved and invested what he earned. Eventually, he invested in real estate in So. Cal. and bought shares in various companies. The bodybuilding got Arnold noticed, and provided a way into the movie business, but the feeling is he would have been successful even if he never made a picture.

5. ### AlephZero

7,298
It might also help that one of the most basic religious duties (dharma) in Hinduism is to work hard and make enough money to support your extended family. It doing that means your spiritual development has to wait till your next reincarnation, that's not a big deal in the (infinitely) long term.

From what I know of Hindus in the UK, kids get the "work ethic" instilled by their parents by about age 7 or 8. And if the ultimate sanction against teenage rebellion is a one-way air ticket back to your family's home village, that rather focuses the mind - and/or weeds out the unfocused from the immigrant community.

6. ### leroyjenkens

619
What surprised me was the amount of money they make. To work hard so that you can provide for your family and live comfortably is one thing, but to make 6 figures a year is another thing, at least in my opinion. And almost half of them seem to be accomplishing that. Even getting a degree and a good job usually won't have you making that much money, so the reason I asked was because I figured they were doing something special.
According to this website, there are only 10 degrees where you'll eventually make 6 figures.
http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2014/majors-that-pay-you-back
Half of them happen to have those degrees? Of course, that doesn't include those who got wealthy without a degree, but I'd think those are rare.

I don't understand the suggestion that one reason is there's less competition because there's fewer Hindus here in America. Do you mean, for example, they can open up Hindu restaurants without other Hindu restaurants competing for business?

7. ### SteamKing

9,391
Staff Emeritus
I think you are losing sight of the fact that while having a certain professional degree may lead one to have a higher income, it is not necessary or sufficient to have a degree for this to be true.

For example, workers in certain skilled trades, like plumbing and electrical work, can easily command six-figure incomes, depending on their level of skill and the demand for their services. I don't know if you've priced plumbing work lately, but if you need someone to fix a drain or a toilet after hours or on a weekend, the hourly rate for a certified plumber can approach the billing rate for an attorney. The skilled trades are generally not salaried positions, so the opportunity to work overtime and on holidays (double time or more) can significantly increase a worker's annual income.

This is not to say necessarily that you will find a lot of Hindu electricians or plumbers. However, a lot of immigrants with an entrepreneurial bent will decide eventually to buy or start a small business. Depending on how shrewdly one chooses to invest and how hard one wishes to work, successful small business people should be able to reach the six-figure income level.

12. ### phinds

9,012
And why would they not? They are one of the ethnic groups in America that still believe in hard work and the value of a GOOD education, not just a free education. My wife teaches middle school and she tells me that most of her students spend their time in class texting each other and goofing off and that most of the ones who don't are the more ethnic kids who pay attention and get good grades.