MIT Study on Iranians in the US

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Research results on the Iranian American community conducted under MIT.
Another reason it's important to proudly identify ourselves as Iranians. This type of research results has profound effect on funding for cultural, social, educational and political initiatives.

By Phyllis McIntosh
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington -- Iranian-Americans are more numerous in the United States than census data indicate and are among the most highly educated and prosperous people in the country, according to research by the MIT Studies Group, an independent academic organization, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M IT).

The group estimates that the actual number of Iranian-Americans may top 691,000 -- more than twice the figure of 338,000 cited in the 2000 U.S. census.
According to the latest census data available, more than one in four Iranian-Americans holds a master's or doctoral degree , the highest rate among any of the 67 largest ethnic groups studied from Europe, Former Soviet Union, Asia, Australia, South and Latin America.

With their high level of educational attainment and a median family income 20 percent higher than the national US average, Iranian-Americans contribute substantially to the U.S. economy.
Through surveys of Fortune 500 companies and other major corporations, the researchers identified more than 50 Iranian-Americans in senior leadership positions at companies with more than $200 million in asset value, including General Electric, AT&T, Verizon, Intel, Cisco, Motorola, Oracle, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies , and eBay. Fortune magazine ranks Iranian Born Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of the board of eBay , the wildly popular online auction company, as the second richest American entrepreneur under age 40 with an estimated wealth of over seven billion dollars.

Iranian-Americans are also prominent in academia. According to a preliminary list compiled by ISG, there are more than 500 Iranian-American professors teaching and doing advanced research at top-ranked U.S. universities, including MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, the University of California system (Berkeley, UCLA, etc.), Stanford, the University of Southern California, Georgia Tech, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Maryland, California Institute of Technology, Boston University, George Washington University, and hundreds of other universities and colleges throughout the United States .

Iranians have achieved a high level of success in the United States because unlike many immigrants, most left their homeland for social, political, or religious reasons, rather than in search of economic opportunity. The two large waves of immigrants who came to the United States because of the 1979 revolution in Iran consisted mainly of people with education and assets, he notes.

"These were people who could make it to the U.S. and sustain themselves in the U.S. It was a pre-selection, not your typical immigration where people come mainly for financial reasons," he said.

In another recently issued report, the Iranian Studies Group has undertaken the mission of convincing Iranian-Americans to become more active participants in the American political process. According to surveys in some major cities, fewer than 10 percent voted in the last presidential election.

The report cites the experiences of other ethnic groups, such as Israeli-Americans, Arab-Americans, and Cuban-Americans, to show how Iranians could use their collective voice to influence U.S. foreign policy regarding Iran and address the needs of the Iranian-American community.