The Sikh community in the United States has grown to a considerable size as a direct result of the changes enacted in the U.S. Immigration Act of 1965. These changes struck down discriminatory clauses and paved the way for the immigration of all nationalities. The New York metropolitan area attracted more than its proportionate share of the Sikhs. To serve the religious, spiritual cultural needs of the Sikh community, a permanent Gurdwara was established in 1972 In a spacious Methodist Church building in Richmond Hills Queens, New York, N.Y Since then, the Gurdwara through its Sadh Sangat (congregation) has emerged as one of the principal religious and cultural seats for the Sikhs in North America

The general impression of the Sikhs is that their community is doing well professionally and economically. However, no statistical information on Sikhs in the United States 1s available. The 1980 census of the United States provides a wealth of data for the Indian community of 362,000 persons as a whole but there is no further breakdown of this information, consequently, there is no separate data available from the United States Census on the Sikhs. This study is an effort to document the social and economic attributes of the Sikh community in the New York metropolitan area in 1983.

 DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE Age: The Immigration Act of

1965 became effective in 1968. This initiated a period of rapid migration in the late sixties and the seventies. As a consequence, young professionals arrived and became a large age cohort. In the eightics immigration appears to have slowed down.

The dominant age group in 1983 was men from 36 to45 years of age. They are the heads of 42 percent of the households.

Income: Most Sikh households have attained a middle class family income or greater,

Men in the age group 3645 years of age also are disproportionately the heads of the households with the higher incomes, A cross tabulation of income groups and age groups clearly illustrates this pattern. I fall the households in an income group, for example, $35,000 $44,999 are made equal to one hundred percent, the proportion of families headed by men of this age group is 40 percent

Family Structure: An overwhelming 90 percent of the households include married couples, only a small fraction, 7 percent, male and 3 percent female, are single heads of households. Family size is small, 1.8 children per family. This figure is the same as the current family size for the United States. Among families a wide variation in the number of children exists. Only 7 percent of the families have 4 or more children. Two child families are more numerous, they account for 41 percent of the families. Nineteen percent of the families have three children. A slightly lower, 15 percent of the families have only one child. A relatively equal number of households (17 percent) have no children. Also, 17 percent of the households include working adult males and parents.

A very large proportion, 59 percent, had no relatives in the United States at the time of their arrival.

A little less than half, 45 percent, of the respondents have sponsored a family member’s immigration to the United States. A direct result of this sponsorship is the increase in the number of households with relatives who are living in North America in 1983.

Strong family relationships are a pervasive cultural attribute of the Sikh Community. This is reflected in the form of a stable family and the sponsorship of the immigration of other family members to the United States.

Where Were The Sikhs Raised?

Although Sikhs have a common religious heritage and have similar experiences on that level, there is considerable diversity in the type of community and the religion in which they were raised.

A very large majority, 65 percent each of husband/single males and wife/single females, were raised in cities. Husband/single males raised in villages constitute 22 percent and the corresponding figure for wife/single females 1s much smaller. 12 percent. Those raised in small towns are only 10 percent and 8 percent for husband/single males and wife/single females respectively

‘A large number, 15 percent, of wife/single females were raised outside of India whereas the proportion for men is only 3 percent the geographic distribution reveals that the largest group was raised in the State of Punjab (40 percent of the husbands/single male’s  and 36 percent of the wives single females). The second largest group came from the city of Delhi

With 32 percent for both sexes and he third, much smaller group is from Bombay. Of the people raised in the state of Punjab, four Districts have the largest share of male immigrants: Ludhiana with 22.7 percent, Jullundur with 18.7 percent and Amritsar and Hoshiarpur are a distant third and fourth with 12.0 percent and 10.7 percent respectively. For females, a slightly different pattern is observed; The districts of Jullundur, Ludhiana, and Amritsar have the highest proportion of female immigrants 24.4 percent, 23.8 percent and 19 percent respectively.

Where Do Sikhs Live In The New York Metropolitan Area?

A very high proportion of families, 46 percent of our sample, live in New York City. Next is State with 25 percent. The New Jersey and Connecticut share is much smaller, 17 percent and 7 percent respectively one explanation is that as the distance from New York City increases, visits and memberships in the Gurdwara at Queens’s decrease and new congregations have been formed to serve the needs of Sikhs in outlying areas. Outside New York City, most of the families either live in the suburbs, 38 percent or small towns, 13 percent.


Employment: Two earner families comprise exactly half of the total families. This is slightly higher than the U.S. average of 48 percent. One income families where the male is the wage earner represent 47 percent of the families. Three percent have a single female income earner. A high proportion of both males and females, 49 percent and 38 percent respectively, work in the private percent. Public sector male employment is the lowest at 19 percent. For females, employment in the public sector and self-employed category is relatively smaller with 13 and 11 percent respectively.

Education and Income: Achieved economic status is constituted of education, employment and income. These variables are positively intercorrelated and this relationship has been confirmed by innumerable studies. Education plays a pivotal role. Most members of the Sikh community were well educated in Indian colleges and universities prior to immigration. Overall, 77 percent of the males have Baccalaureate and Graduate degrees. For females, a lower proportion. 54 percent. But Hi a majority falls in this category. Among men, engineering degree holders with 26 percent represent the highest proportion, followed by 24 percent with a Baccalaureate degree.

Among females, a Baccalaureate degree is the most common education, 29 percent, followed by 16 percent with a Master’s degree. Eight percent of females have medical degrees. Engineering education in females is rare.

Though most Sikhs were well educated in India, a majority received further degrees or training after coming to the United States. Sixty seven percent of the males and half of the females (50%) received further education or training in the United States. This is indicative of a strong desire to succeed and participate fully in all facets of American society. High educational achievements and the strong desire to be one’s own boss. Has translated into high income for the Sikh community. The median family income is around $40,000. This is high in comparison to the New York metropolitan area in general, which has a median family income of $22,000.

The survey revealed a diversity of income groups in the Community. For example, 8 percent of the families have an income above $100,000 annually. At the lower end of the scale, 10 percent of the households make less than $15,000. This income level is marginally above the poverty level. This low income is not because of single adults, Eighty five percent of these households consist of married couples.

A comparison of income and employment reveals that the higher the income category, the higher the proportion of two earner families in that category. For example, in the income group of $15,000$24,999 a year, both husband and wife work in 35 percent of the families. For the income group $75,000 $94,999, both husband and wife work in 80 percent of the families. There is a progressive increase in the intermediary categories.

A cross tabulation of income group and education received in India confirms the positive correlation between income and education, income level increases with education. The following explanation can help to interpret this. All families earning less than $15,000 were taken as a group and made equal to 100 percent. The largest sub group, 40 percent, of the husbands/ males in this income group has a high school education. The second largest sub groups of the husband/ males, 30 percent, have a Baccalaureate degree.

Fully, two thirds of the husbands have improved their educational training in the United States. The influence of these improvements is reflected in family income. Persons who did not receive any education in the United States are in the lower income categories. In the income category $15,000— $24,999, 37 percent of the males did improve their education. In the income category of $25,000 — $34,999, this percentage increased to 50 percent and rises in higher categories of income. A similar trend is prevalent for women. In the lower income categories a lower proportion of the women improved their education in the United States. The proportion of women with educational improvement increases in the higher income categories,

In the Sikh community, a very high proportion, 61 percent, own their own home. The higher the income category, the higher the incidence of home ownership. The income category of $35,000 — $44,999 is a watershed category with 71 percent home owners Just a notch lower $534.999 has only 36 percent home ownership. Home ownership ~ reaches 100 percent for the income group $75,000 $99,999.

U.S. Citizenship:

Nearly half the husbands, 45 percent, are citizens of the United States. The corresponding figure for wives is 37 percent. Citizenship also increases the possibilities for the children in the family to participate fully in the opportunities presented by the United States. Furthermore, citizenship makes students eligible for financial aid and other merit awards and scholarships as well as makes travel easier.

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