Trends in Asian American Racial/Ethnic Intermarriage: A Comparison of 1980 and 1990 Census Data

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In this paper, we use data from the 1990 census to compare patterns of Asian American intermarriage with those reported by Lee and Yamanaka (1990). Lee and Yamanaka (1990) used data from the 1980 census to examine patterns of Asian American racial and ethnic intermarriage. They reported that one- quarter of married Asian Americans were outmarried; of these, 90% were married to non-Asians. Variations by gender and nativity were also observed. Women and the native-born were more likely to be outmarried. We expect to see a decline in Asian American intermarriage since 1980 because of high levels of immigration, growth of the Asian population, and increased social distance between Asian Americans and Whites. Our main findings show that: (i) the overall outmarriage rate has declined; (ii) Asian American inter-ethnic marriages (that is, marriages between two Asian Americans of different Asian ethnicities) have increased; and (iii) social distance, measured by an Index of Intermarriage Distance, between Asian Americans and other racial and ethnic groups has widened. We conclude by discussing some implications of the findings for the role of racial and ethnic intermarriage as an indicator of intergroup relations.