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Nationwide, levels of educational attainment among Chinese Americans were significantly higher than those of the general U. population in both 19, and skill level increased over time.
The 1990 Census showed that 41 percent of Chinese Americans (aged 25 to 64) have attained four or more years of college education, compared to 21 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Legal exclusion, augmented by extralegal persecution and anti-Chinese violence, effectively drove the Chinese out of the mines, farms, woolen mills, and factories on the West Coast.
As a result, many Chinese laborers already in the United States lost hope of ever fulfilling their dreams and returned permanently to China.
In the 1870s, white workers' frustration with economic distress, labor market uncertainty, and capitalist exploitation turned into anti-Chinese sentiment and racist attacks against the Chinese called them the "yellow peril." In 1882, the U. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, and later extended to exclude all Asian immigrants until World War II.
One pattern of social mobility is the time-honored path of starting at the bottom and moving up through hard work.
In the mid-l9th century, most Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii and the U. mainland as contract labor, working at first in the plantation economy in Hawaii and in the mining industry on the West Coast and later on the transcontinental railroads west of the Rocky Mountains.
But few realized their gold dreams; many found themselves instead easy targets of discrimination and exclusion.
Some arrived in the United States with little money, minimum education, and few job skills, which forced them to take low-wage jobs and settle in deteriorating urban neighborhoods.
Others came with family savings, education and skills far above the levels of average Americans.