Forging Asian Identities through Marriage: Theory and Reality

Deenesh S. Sohoni, College of William and Mary

Using data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Census, this study examines trends in racial and ethnic endogamy for native-born members of three Asian groups in California. This study contributes to the developing literature on Asian racial and ethnic boundaries by examining two aspects of Asian-American marriage that are frequently ignored: first, the impact of foreign-born Asians on marriage choices of native-born co-ethnics, and second, the respective roles of intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic marriage for overall trends in Asian in-marriage. The findings call into question the claim that growth in Asian populations leads to the strengthening of ethnic and pan-ethnic boundaries for Asian Americans. Instead current marriage patterns reveal weakening barriers between Asians and Whites. In addition, regression analysis reveals the dangers of generalizations across and within Asian-American groups, with significant variation in intermarriage by ethnic group, age, gender, and education level.

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Presented in Session 10: Intermarriage: Trends and Consequences I