Inter-racial marriage rates are at an all-time high in the United States, with the percentage of couples marrying across the color line more than doubling over the last 30 years. But Asian-Americans are not following that trend, more and more choosing their soul mates from among their own community.
From 2008 to 2010, the percentage of Asian-American newlyweds who were born in the United States and who married someone of a different race dropped by nearly 10 percent. Asians are increasingly marrying other Asians, with marriages between the American-born and foreign-born Asians jumping to 21 percent in 2008, up from 7 percent in 1980.
Asian-Americans still have one of the highest inter-racial marriage rates in the country, with 28 percent of newlyweds choosing a non-Asian spouse in 2010, according to census data. But an increase in immigration from Asia over the last 30 years has greatly increased the number of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, giving young people many more options among Asian-Americans. It has also inspired a new interest in language and ancestral traditions among some newlyweds.
In 2010, 10.2 million Asian immigrants were living in the United States, up from 2.2 million in 1980. Today, foreign-born Asians account for about 60 percent of the Asian-American population here, census data shows. “Immigration creates a ready pool of marriage partners,” said one census expert. “They bring their language, their culture and reinforce that culture here in the United States for the second and third generations.”
Young Asian-Americans tell their reasoning
Before she met Mr. Gao, Ms. Young had dated only white men. She said she probably wouldn’t be planning to teach her children Cantonese and Mandarin if her husband had not been fluent in Mandarin. “It would be really hard,” said Ms. Young, who is most comfortable speaking in English.
Ed Lin, 36, a marketing director in Los Angeles who was married in October, said that his wife, Lily Lin, had given him a deeper understanding of many Chinese traditions. Mrs. Lin, 32, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in New Orleans, has taught him the terms in Mandarin for his maternal and paternal grandparents, familiarized him with the red egg celebrations for newborns and other cultural customs, like the proper way to exchange red envelopes on Chinese New Year. Mrs. Lin has also encouraged him to serve tea to his elders and refer to older people as aunty and uncle.
Marriage trends vary among Asians of different nationalities. Japanese-American men and women had the highest rates of intermarriage to whites while Vietnamese-American men and Indian women had the lowest rates. The term Asian, as defined by the Census Bureau, includes a broad group of people who trace their origins to the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent, including countries like Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands and Vietnam. Intermarriage rates are significantly higher among Asian women than among men. About 36 percent of Asian-American women married someone of another race in 2010, compared with about 17 percent of Asian-American men.