Intermarriage, gender and nativity

A new report from the Pew Research Center gives the latest numbers on race/ethnic intermarriage. For the first time, the 2008 American Community Survey included a question on marital status changes in the previous year, allowing analysis of the most recent marriages (we normally report data on all currently married couples).

Two things jump out, confirming in dramatic fashion things we knew: gender and nativity patterns.

For Blacks and Asians, the patterns are highly gendered:

For Asians, the pattern is largely about cultural reception and attitudes on both sides. For Blacks it reflects gender-specific racism, as well as demographic patterns (including education, mortality and incarceration) creating imbalanced marriage pools.

Second, Latinos and Asians show big differences in intermarriage by nativity:

This pattern is actually keeping down the trend toward intermarriage for both these groups, as new flows of immigrants are less likely to marry non-Latino Whites. In fact, as Dan Lichter points out, overall intermarriage rates with Whites have dropped for Latinos and Asians since 1980.

For more on all this, including in-depth analysis of immigration and diversity patterns, you might check out the new book by Jennifer Lee and Frank Bean, “The Diversity Paradox: Immigration and the Color Line in Twenty-First Century America.”

(By the way, people often talk about these numbers as if cheering for intermarriage. My view on intermarriage is not that it is good per se, but that it is an indicator of social distance between race/ethnic groups in the country. That makes a good measure to study in the aggregate — it’s not personal advice or judgement of people who do or don’t do it individually.)

2 thoughts on “Intermarriage, gender and nativity

  1. From the Pew Research Study :

    Appendices : Section II : Additional Charts : New Marriages For Hispanics and Asians in 2008 Native vs. Foreign Born
    Appendices : Section II : Additional Charts : Intermarriage Rates Among Asian US-Born Newlyweds by Gender 1980-2008

    1) Over 41% US Born (Native) Asian men married someone of a different race/ethnicity in 2008
    2) Over 50% US Born (Native) Asian women married someone of a different race/ethnicity in 2008

    When the Asian male/female interracial marriage disparity is discussed, most ignore that roughly half of the US Asian Population are 1st generation immigrants. Most of these immigrant Asians (men) have English as a second language, culturally ‘Asian’, etc. But when you isolate Asians who are born in the US (or raised in the US when they are young) – this means these US born Asians speak English fluently and raised in American culture, this interracial marriage disparity between Asian-American males/females lessens to where over 41% vs 50%.


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