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“Ethnic Variations in Characteristics of First Unions” 193

groups, indicating that cohabitation, as a relatively informal union,

is not significantly more likely to be racially exogamous than

marriage for all races.

Moving to the last three columns shown in Table 1, East Asian

and Filipino Americans tend to have better socio-demographic

profiles than South Asians. This is reflected in the percentage of

young adults who received some college education or a college

degree at Wave 4 and the average maternal education level across

groups. There are relatively more first-generation immigrants

among Filipino and South Asian immigrants. As for union

experiences in the next panel, South Asian Americans (42.71%) are

slightly more likely than other two Asian ethnic groups (41.41% for

East Asians and 39.68% for Filipinos) to have never cohabited by

Wave 4, but the differences do not show statistical significance. In

contrast, East Asian and Filipino young adults are more likely to

remain unmarried (64.61% and 57.97%) than their South Asian

counterparts (46.30%).

In the next panel, Asian Americans of East Asian origin

(37.13%) are particularly less likely than the other two subgroups

to make the transition to marriage after first cohabitation (48.37%

and 49.49%). As for the characteristics of first cohabiting partner,

the tendency to have a white cohabiting partner is much more

pronounced among East Asians than the other two Asian subgroups.

Nearly two-fifths of East Asians reported a first cohabitation with a

white partner, while the percentages for Filipinos and South Asians

are 13.73% and 26.84%.

In the bottom panel, a smaller share of South Asian American

married individuals (43.24%) had premarital cohabitation than the

other two Asian groups (57.12% for East Asians and 62.22%

for Filipinos). The tendency to marry a white partner is the

strongest among East Asians (49.17%) than among the other two

Asian subgroups (13.04% for Filipinos and 18.61% for South

Asians).