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“Ethnic Variations in Characteristics of First Unions” 207

and whites are comparatively more stable relationships, as they

more often lead to marriages. On the other hand, the odds of first

marriages being preceded by cohabitation are more than two times

higher for Filipinos than those of East Asians. Having a white

partner significantly raises the risk of cohabitation prior to entering

a first marriage. This finding is also indicative of Filipinos’ higher

level of acculturation in the American mainstream culture of

growing premarital cohabitation.

Finally, for the race of cohabiting or married partners,

Filipinos are more likely to cohabit with Asian coethnics or

individuals from other minority groups than with whites, when

compared with their East Asian peers. For the race/ethnicity of a

married partner, East Asians are the group that has the highest

likelihood of partnering with whites than their Filipino or South

Asian counterparts. Given the significant influence of American

culture on Philippine society during the first half of the twentieth

century and the longer history of Filipino immigration to the U.S.,

one would think that Filipino Americans should have higher union

formation rates with white Americans than the other two Asian

subgroups. An earlier study that used the 1990 Census data showed

that Filipino Americans have the largest share of the interracial

marriages with whites among Asian Americans (Qian, Blair, & Ruf,

2001). The much higher rate of having white cohabiting and

marital partners among East Asian Americans for this younger

cohort of adults in the current study may signal a new trend and is

an intriguing issue for future research to confirm with a larger

analytical sample. The patterns show that while Filipino Americans

appear to be more acculturated in terms of higher cohabitation

rates prior to marriage and slower transition to first marriage than

South Asians, they tend to partner more with other Asian coethnics

and minority groups (i.e., African Americans or Hispanics) than

their East Asian counterparts. In a way, they have a lower level of

integration into mainstream culture by maintaining a further social

distance from the majority group than East Asian immigrants. This