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“Ethnic Variations in Characteristics of First Unions” 181

groups within a society, which further transfer into different levels

of interracial marriage patterns (Gordon, 1964; Lieberson &

Waters, 1988; Qian, 1997). The investigation of this issue is

important in understanding the level of social integration into the

mainstream society between Asian subgroups, since interracial

marriage is indicative of social distance between minority groups

and the host society.

This study employs data from the National Longitudinal

Study of Adolescent

to Adult

Health (Add Health) to examine

ethnic variations in first union characteristics among recent cohorts

of Asian American young adults. The unique design of Add


the oversampling of youths with Asian ancestry and the

complete union histories of all respondents between the ages of 25

to 32 in Wave 4 (2007-2008)

makes this investigation a feasible

plan. This paper aims to compare three Asian ethnic categories:

East Asian, Filipino, and South Asian Americans (which also

includes a very few respondents from Central Asia). The next

section will provide justifications for such an ethnic breakdown.

Three research questions will be addressed by this study: (1) Are

there ethnic variations in the likelihood of young adults who will

join a cohabiting or a marital union by Wave 4 among Asian

Americans? (2) Are there ethnic variations in the outcomes of first

cohabitation and the prevalence of a first marriage being preceded

by cohabitation? (3) Do the patterns of interracial partnering for

cohabitation and marriage vary by Asian subgroup? If so, which

group is more likely to partner with whites versus with other Asian

coethnics or other minority groups?

I. Prior Research

A. Asian Ethnic Diversity: Socioeconomic Profiles

and Cultural Values

The usage of a pan-ethnic, overarching label of “Asian

American” as a racial category masks the demographic diversity